I didn't believe it, at first. I don't even remember how I first heard; if Chandra heard at school and told me, or what, but I know I didn't believe it. There had to be some sort of mistake.
Kelly Elaine Brumbelow was not a close friend of Chandra's, but Chandra knew her at school. They were both 7th Graders, so probably had some classes together. Kelly was one of those kids who always did everything right...cheerleader, gymnast, honour student...all that. Cute as anything, too.
Terrance Daron Sampson was also a 7th grader at the same school. He was younger than Kelly, but not by much. He was also her next door neighbour.
I knew exactly where they lived...just a few blocks from where we moved several months later.
Her mother got home from work, and Kelly wasn't there. She alerted the neighbours, and everyone began to look for her, including Terrance. Terrance called several times during the evening. His mom got home, too, and noticed that there was a mess in the house. A mess that looked as if someone not used to cleaning had tried to clean it up. Blood and bleach were smeared everywhere. I don't remember who found her, stashed under the woodpile, with 97 stab wounds. It seems that Terrance had asked her to go out with him, and she turned him down.
Her death was a horrible shock to this town, which had under 20,000 people in 1989. There had been very few murders here, and none that I knew of committed by a 12-year-old boy.
I was so torn. Her funeral was at First Baptist, about a block from C D Fulkes Middle School, and a lot of Kelly's (and Terrance's) classmates were going. The friend who eventually became Chandra's step-sister was an 8th grader there, and both were attending the funeral. I knew I should have been there, but that afternoon was the final dress rehearsal for the Christmas show at Berkman Elementary (right next door to the middle school). Vanessa was a 3rd grader there, and I was the narrator for the show, scheduled to take place that evening. I so wanted to be with Chandra at such a horrible event as the funeral for her murdered classmate. However, Final Dress is Final Dress, and Vanessa, at eight and in the choir, needed me to be there. Charyl, who later became step-mom to Chandra and Vanessa, went with the girls. I had told Chandra what to expect, except for one thing.
It never occurred to me that they would have an open casket.
ETA: I have just been informed that the casket was not open, so my CRS must have kicked in. I am sorry to have published something that was untrue. I could have sworn that Chandra told me at the time it was open, but now she doesn't remember so I shall defer to someone who does.
I remember when Terrance's trial was held, neither of his parents was there. They had moved away. People said horrible things about them.
They started a little "memorial garden" at the school, which has been added to, over the years, with trees planted in memory of kids killed in accidents. I think...I hope...that, to this day, no other students have been murdered. The garden is tended by honour students at C D Fulkes, and Brendan had his turn. None of the kids were told what had happened to any of the students memorialized there.
This was the murder that got me to thinking...WHY?? What is it that prevents the conscience from kicking in? Why do some people grow up with no consideration for others? Or even some sort of self-interest?
These cases still boggle my mind, and I am no closer to knowing what happens than I was back then in 1989. Coming up on twenty years now.
I will never forget Kelly Brumbelow.
Here is a link to some information about the case, and a letter that can be sent to the Parole Board, to let them know that Terrance Daron Sampson is where he belongs
Texans for Equal Justice