For 15 years your face has haunted me. The memory of your touch can still make my body tremble in terror. I can still feel your lips on my neck, breathing, and spewing disgusting profanity. I can feel your hands around my neck choking me. I can feel you jabbing something in my side through your oversized coat, telling me it was a gun. I can see us struggling in the middle of the store. You were pulling me to the front door, and I saw your car parked with the back door slightly ajar. Imagine my fear with the startling realization you were trying to take me. I can still hear your voice demanding me to undress. In an instant I am back in this dark moment. The moment I came face to face with evil for the first time in my life. You changed me this day. You took something from me. You took a part of my innocence. You took my ability to see anything but good in people. You took some of my fearless nature. You could have walked in that store taken the money and fled. But you chose to do so much more. You chose to be aggressive. You chose to hurt me. You chose to traumatize me. You chose to keep taking it further. I begged you to stop. I remember looking at you and pleading with you, I just wanted to see my mommy again. I was a child. I was 16 years old. You told me to shut up. You have been the star in my nightmares for 15 years. And I’m weeping as I type this because after all of this, I am the lucky one. Now look what you’ve done… A man, a hero, a husband, a daddy, is fighting for his life because he came across your evilness too.
You may have taken all of this from me, but you helped give me something that day too. I saw the power of my God. After you had the money, the others locked in the office, and ample access to the safe, you didn’t choose to leave. You demanded the other employees to stay in the office. I can still hear your voice and profane words demanding I take my clothes off. You still had me by the neck from behind, still steadily jabbing a “gun” into my side and threatening me with it. I remember I hadn’t seen the gun. In that moment I thought I’d rather be shot than raped and you rip my innocence from me. I remember a million thoughts in my mind. And then a name came to the forefront of my mind.
That name was Jesus.
Who is the most powerful of names? Jesus.
In this dark moment, in the midst of evil, my faith was awakened. I had always believed in God, and walked with God. But this moment God came down to me. He became more real to me than I’d ever experienced before.
“Jesus, Jesus, Jesus”. I began to whisper. I remember a boldness rising up in me when that name left my lips. “JESUS, JESUS, JESUS”, I repeated over and over. At some point I broke free from your grasp and domineering hold over me. I was standing face to face with you as I continued calling on my Jesus.
My fear fled.
But you, you looked fearful at this Name. You’ve known this Name. The demonic imps that were inside of you in that moment—they knew that Name. And you fled the scene.
I remember shaking uncontrollably. I remember running into the office and falling into the safety of the others. I remember wanting my mommy so badly. I knew my life wasn’t going to be the same. I had no idea how much this event would not only haunt me, but grow me. Oh but the haunting was so overwhelming. I hated that you have showed up in my mind night after night for 15 years. I get scared at an unexpected ring of the doorbell. I am shaken with instant fear if someone comes up behind me like you did that fateful morning in February 2006. My people know how serious I am about that silly scare tactic—you took the silliness out of it, and replaced it with an immediate survival mode that arises in me at even the mere thought of danger.
When you fled the scene that February morning in Houston County, Texas you began a chase with law enforcement. You were caught by a spike strip in Anderson County. The months turned into a year as we prepared for trial. I can still see you in the court room. You didn’t even appear remorseful. It was excuse after excuse. I remember being so angry that you claimed you did all of this because of PTSD issues from serving in the war. But then you gave an innocent 16-year old girl a lifetime of PTSD because of your aggressive and evil actions. None of it made sense to me. And the day of sentencing… The day it was official… you were going to lose 10 years of freedom, you rose up from your chair in the courtroom, guards’ appeared immediately as you demanded to speak to me. The look on your face was so distorted and scary.
But what you don’t know is during those 10 years I delved deeper and deeper into my relationship with God. He took me on a path of forgiveness. Though you haunted and tormented me in my night terrors, I continued to pray for you. I continued my journey of forgiveness. I wrote a half dozen letters to you (knowing I would never ever send them) but it was a part of my letting go of this traumatic event. The letters surrounded forgiveness. I found forgiveness in my heart for you. I saw the evil that overtook you, and honestly I began to pity you. I can still see your mama in the courthouse. I can see her with her eyes closed awaiting her turn to take the stand. I can hear her humming no doubt an old hymn. I could sense the anguish. I’ve prayed for your mama too.
I often feared retaliation for helping send you to prison. That fear would rear its ugly head throughout the years. While you were in prison I grew up. I married, and was living my life. Then I got the phone call from the District Attorney at the time of trial stating you were out, and living in Palestine. I remember being shaken up. But I also had so much hope that you had found freedom and Jesus during your time away. We were now living in the same small town. I wondered what I would be like running into you or if you found me. I knew you had found me that day in 2018 when I woke up to a Facebook Friend Request from you. I remember rising up in bed. I remember opening and closing my eyes trying to determine if this was one of my many nightmares. Nope. I was awake. I remember throwing my phone in fear at just seeing your face and name- DeArthur Pinson- right there on my phone. I wept in my bed, turning into a scared little girl again. My thoughts went to my little girl sleeping in the next room. All my fears weren’t just about me anymore. I had someone to protect.
I look back over the last 15 years and shudder from the anxiety attacks, all of the secret fears I fight daily. In the same thoughts I have an overwhelming thankfulness my God showed up in the midst of the attack. I know the ending could have easily been so different for me.
Just this week, you met me in my nightmares once again. For what seemed liked the millionth time. Your presence was overwhelming in my mind. I’ve been on alert all week, more so than usual. Imagine my surprise to wake up Saturday morning with your face plastered all over my social media newsfeed, opening the wounds I’ve tried to mend. My heart palpitating out of my chest reading what you had done. My prayers for you to change hadn’t come to pass. The evil was rampart. The thought of you on the run struck me to my core. My heart was ripped knowing the physical pain you’ve now caused a man, and the emotional pain you’ve caused his beautiful family and community. Your face, the face that has haunted me for 15 years was being shared all over. Now everyone can see the face that has visited me in the night. It’s heavy, these emotions, this trauma feeling… It’s hard to even put into words.
But I do know one thing… You will no longer haunt me. You will no longer be the root of fear over my life. You will no longer have power over me or my mind. My flesh is raging with anger of the cowardly way you chose to end things. Taking your life brings no justice to this now hurting family. But then selfishly I am eased, knowing if you couldn’t overcome the evil that lurked in you—at least now you’re not here to hurt someone else. For years I have faced the fear of the possibility of seeing you again and now once and for all I can lay that fear to rest. So many emotions, it’s so heavy. I have to remind myself of Ephesians 6:12, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
You do not win. I vow this chapter is closed. The enemy will no longer use your face to illuminate fear over me. I am not a victim, but an overcomer with Christ in me.
Now your face doesn’t have to be hidden in my mind, because everyone knows your face too. In some indescribable way that brings freedom to my soul and spirit. I didn’t even know how bound up I still was until this. But freedom reigns.
Now I will spiritually stand in the gap for the pain you’ve caused Trooper Chad Walker, his family, community and the community of law enforcement. The evil of man is real, but the power and redemption of my God is real and much more powerful than any evil.
As I sit here and type these words, feeling the fresh wind blow on my face, I am overwhelmed with life and love. You didn’t take that from me. And now you no longer have the ability to take anything from another innocent human. Now you’re spending eternity answering for your actions and I pity your soul.
To Trooper Walker and your family I am declaring Numbers 6:24-26 over you and all effected by this recent tragic event, “May the LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.”
I Trust my God, I Trust my God, I Trust my God.