My Victim Impact Letter for the Murder of my Beloved Uncle Alfred Barnes

October 1, 2015

To The Honorable Jonathan Mark:

When I first learned that there was a faceless monster, who had admitted to mercilessly murdering my dearly beloved Uncle Alfred Barnes 47 long years ago, in northeastern Pennsylvania; time stood still. My heart stopped for a moment, but the pain of it all anguishes still. Mr. Richard Keiper was apprehended at last in Boyd, Texas by the Pennsylvania State Police and Texas Rangers. They are to be thanked for his long-awaited arrest. Our long-overdue prayers were finally answered, when this faceless monster was finally discovered and victoriously uncovered.

Bethlehem-Uncle-Alfred-sm--

Alfred Louis Barnes, who was just 40 years young at the time, was a friendly unsuspecting man, who could see the good in others. He was successful, and in the prime of his happy life. He was not only robbed, but was also gunned down like an animal; with no thought and so senselessly.

Dazed, in shock and finding myself forced to relive this nightmare and horrendous family event and sadness all over again, it took me several days to wrap and unwrap my heart, mind and soul around the depth of loss rendered our family. Though it has been a long 47 years, the sting of our festering wound is raw, and our significant loss is still so painful.

I remember my Uncle Alfred, as the beloved youngest of four and my Mother’s little brother whom she loved so dearly. He Alfredo y Sara Luzwas fun to be around, loved life and was a loving, giving, committed, hard-working, respectful, caring, honest, handsome and wonderful man. He was loved and esteemed by many. It was evident to me as a child that he loved and served his country, adored his companion Cocker Spaniel dog named Terry, and was committed to his family through and through. I knew without a doubt, he cared for us deeply, and the feeling was mutual. We all loved, looked up to, respected and appreciated him much. I always looked forward to his phone calls, encouraging cards, letters and fun visits.

My memories of my Uncle Alfred are clear, dear and sweet. I will treasure them always. My young heart at the tender age of 12 was forever changed and broken, when he was so horribly, unexpectedly and brutally taken from us 47 years ago. When I think of all those years lost: time spent together, heart to heart conversations, birthdays, holidays, births, deaths, weddings, family photos, events and memories all without him, my sadness cries out! We have all dearly missed his smiling presence through the years. I really wish my children and grandchildren had, had the opportunity to have known him, and to have had him be a vital part of their lives. I feel they’ve missed out on something so very special that can never be recovered this side of Heaven.

scan0008After so many years of why, and being left wondering about who could have violated, executed and taken my dear Uncle Alfred from us so coldly, it is hard to get used to the idea that this faceless monster from the past, now has a name and face. Richard Keiper was the last face my uncle ever saw, and is the face and presence of evil. He took too much, how could he…!

Now that Richard Keiper has been arrested and convicted of the murder of my Uncle, I am thankful for the closure and justice, which has been finally served on behalf of my Uncle. Though I weep in knowing the fear and pain my Uncle must have suffered on that dreary dreadful day, 47 years ago. Knowing who did it, does not ease the pain, and certainly will not bring my Uncle back. This is so miserably sad for me, and for those of us who knew and loved him best.

I lost my Uncle Alfred too soon, so unexpectedly and too violently. I will never forget Uncle Alfred! He was and still is such a vital part, of the puzzle of me. He remains in my heart forever. Yes, my memories of him are sweet, and I was truly blessed to have had him in my life at all.

For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil. Ecclesiastes 12:14

Most sincerely,

Vivian Edwards

Niece of my beloved uncle, Alfred L Barnes

Note: With anguish, I forgive Richard Keiper for this horrendous act taken against my Uncle Alfred Barnes. Knowing that God in His mercy has forgiven me, so therefore I must also practice forgiveness for others. God desires me to forgive, and to let go. I feel very sad for Richard Keiper’s family, who knew nothing of his actions against my Uncle that day. I can’t imagine how their hearts are breaking and suffering as well, because of his destructive choices. My prayers are with them.

For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6: 14 and 15

A Silver Lining

My Bella

On April 2, shortly after my last post on “Bella’s Story” my beloved fur baby lost her 7 year battle with Mega Esophagus. Devastated by this journey and her loss, I found it impossible to write.

Since then, finding myself in the dawn of this first day of 2012, I still have no answers but I do see new beginning’s of a silver lining in this dark grey cloud of the storm.

The day after we buried our Bella in our beautiful garden, under the Weeping Willow, a fierce storm emerged from the west. Heart broken, I deeply felt the need to cry out to my God. In the midst of the roar, I needed answers. “Why?” Confusion and anger pouring from deep within my soul…

Immediately convicted, I asked God’s forgiveness. After a pause and with sincerity in my heart, I longingly asked Him, “Is Bella ok, is she with You Father? Is she up in Heaven praising You right now?” I desperately needed to know she was happy and safe…

Instantly, God answered me with an imposingly dark grey cloud. It was large and moving quickly appearing from behind the roof of my home. Stunned, I gazed as it drew near, floating above me. It took me a minute but to my delightful surprise, this cloud was in the shape of my Bella! Blackish grey, fluffy, long-bodied, her perfectly formed head, ears, four short little legs, a tail, with bright lightning-white angel wings… I couldn’t believe it!

I thought to myself, “I need to take a photo of this or no one will believe me!” I ran into my house to get my camera. Excitedly asked Rick if he knew where the camera was. “Bella’s up in the sky!” I yelled! Rick thought I’d lost it, and he came running outside thinking he would literally see Bella flying around, up in the sky.

By the time I got back outside with my camera, the beautiful cloud was mostly fizzled and gone… But my heart and soul were at peace and overjoyed! To think that God loved me enough to answer my desperate prayer in such a creative and laughable way was amazing to me and still is eight months later.

Loosing someone or something so beloved is one of the harshest things about this life that we all have to experience at one time or another. Even God Himself suffered loss and felt this unbearable pain, when He gave up His own Son for us for a time.

In this new year, let us always look for the silver lining in each unwanted storm cloud that comes our way. Instead of focusing on the dark grey of the center, may we always notice the brightness of God’s love and hope, as we keep our skyward look!

Love, Blessings, and Happy New Year to you all!

Vivian May Edwards