Catherine Durkin Robinson: Governor Scott, sign this man's death warrant

By the time we left high school in June 1987, Cathy and I, along with most other students, were forever changed.

The usual experiences were only part of it. We liked boys who didn’t like us back, changed our hair color, learned to drive, tried tequila, and went from Madonna to Motley Crue in the blink of an eye. Our home lives were pretty typical in that we both had divorced parents and felt horribly misunderstood.

Cathy had to work extra hard to please her mom and sometimes buckled under the pressure.

Stephanie made life easier for Cathy. They were best friends. Stephanie’s outlook and charm made gaps between disaffected youth and disapproving parents disappear. Cathy’s mom loved Stephanie and Cathy cherished her above all other friends. They did everything together.

Our senior year, in November 1986, Stephanie drove Cathy home one day after school. She couldn’t stay and hang out; she had to request more hours at work before chorus practice.

Stephanie never made it to chorus practice. She parked in a busy shopping center in the nicest part of town…and disappeared somewhere between her car and the drugstore where she worked.

Days followed where everyone felt confused and scared. Where did she go? Stephanie wasn’t the running-away type. We attended vigils, answered rude and disrespectful questions from the local news media, and spent weeks passing out fliers and hoping for the best. Tragically, Stephanie’s body was found a month later.

I’ve written about Stephanie Collins before, and I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. I’ll use whatever voice and position I have in this state to remind everyone about her story and urge for justice on her behalf.

It’s the least I can do.

Years passed before police announced that he’d been found. I won’t name the serial killer who abducted and murdered Stephanie. He and his sick and twisted wife thrive off attention and I won’t add to it. But Stephanie wasn’t his only victim.

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In the past 28 years, he has stood trial three times for killing Natalie Holley, Teri Lynn Matthews, and Stephanie. Three times, families and friends have had to gather and sit in the same room as the man who killed their loved ones. Three times, he has acted callous and removed from the trauma he has caused, showing not an ounce of concern or remorse.

Three times, Cathy has had to take the stand and describe that sad time in her life for courtroom after courtroom filled with strangers. How we went from carefree teenagers one day, to scared young girls the next, who spent hours talking about how to react if someone tried to steal us away from the people we loved.

Three times, he has stood trial. Three times, he has been found guilty. Three times, he has been sentenced to death.

It is difficult to get a guilty verdict and death sentence once, never mind three times, in Florida. Therefore it’s worth noting how pathetic it is that the man continues to sit on death row and appeal these convictions over and over again. Gov. Rick Scott, sign this man’s death warrant. These families have been through enough.

At the most recent trials, almost 10 years ago, family members spoke for all those affected by violence. How it changes the people left behind, alters their outlook on life. This pathetic killer is not the reason for those changes, though. Our reaction to loss was because of a young red-haired girl, her infectious laugh, and the way she took care of her friends. Especially Cathy.

Like most girls from our high school class, Cathy and I grew into women…a blessing stolen from Stephanie, Natalie, and Teri. We know we’re the lucky ones. You can see that we know it. Just look behind our smiles.

Catherine Durkin Robinson co-parents twin sons, organizes families for advocacy purposes, writes syndicated columns, mentors kids, runs a few races, and investigates missing socks. Follow her on Twitter: @cdurkinrobinson. Column courtesy of Context Florida.

 

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One comment

  • Rufus Hambone

    October 30, 2015 at 8:58 pm

    Speaking for “Cathy”: Not that it matters now but a couple of your facts are incorrect. Steph was abducted in 1986 right after senior pics were taken. Her body was found soon afterwards, give or take a few months in 1986. She did not make it to 1987. Although spot on that she was Cathy’s best friend. The part about her Mom was also correct although much better in present time.

    I could go into chapters and volumes on how the dynamic of this experience changed her life. . . and not for the better. I wouldn’t call it PTSD because she was never in harms way but something similar. To hold on to that much anger, resentment and full fledged angst in the long term can manifest itself into SO many mental problems. It’s just not a good place to be.

    Eventually you turn into this shadow of yourself that doesn’t give a rat’s ass how you look, who you hang out with or where your life is headed. It’s the most pure and complete numbness that embodies every thought, every word and every goal you think you had. But you’ve been numb for so long, you don’t even remember what those goals ever were. It’s a hell I cannot ever express unless you’ve gone through it yourself.

    Ever had a blackhead or some weird skin “bump” that never bothered you for years then one random day decided to get infected and turn into a festering nastiest that hurts so bad you can feel your pulse through it? That’s what happens to one’s mind when you hold on to that much anger. Eventually, it comes to a head and you either seek professional help or you pop the infection out yourself. . . to be rid of it once and for all.

    That’s what Cathy did with Oscar Bolin. To the chagrin of a LOT of people, she forgave him – years ago. Once she did, the weight lifted and she was finally set free.

    Some people handle stress better than others. Cathy? Not so much.

    It wasn’t until Cathy got married that karma came back around. A good man

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