I was asked by the Evansville Living Magazine, What is the most fearless thing you've ever done? After extensive thought and trying to select from my greatest fears, I settled on the following article.
In an instant, my life changed from naive innocence and a sense of indestructibility to one with a kaleidoscope of fear. My family was murdered by Donald Ray Wallace Jr. 26 years ago. Fear to me became a conscious and subconscious everyday occurrence. The fear was not just living in a nightmare for 25 years but there was a fear to face the reality of this heinous crime and its consequences. Simple things like answering a doorbell, a phone call, walking into an empty house, Wallace's existence, the media, etc. exposed me to fears far beyond what I was able to comprehend. One frightening step was confronting Wallace about the exact events that occurred on Jan 14, 1980. We began a correspondence that peeled back some of the layers of this horrible crime and although it was hard to face his truth along with his myriad of lies, it resulted in knowing what had happened and the thoughts of a murderer. After his execution in 2005, I wrote the book, Surviving the Death Penalty.... it was time to face the remaining fears that had built up over this long ordeal. Through writing I was able to see in my words the sequence of events such as the challenges of the deaths, crime, criminal, trial, appeals, hostage taking, letters of guilt, execution, aftermath and how my life and the life of Wallace had intertwined with these events. I had squelched so many horrible events for so long and once I placed them onto the pages, it was therapy for me. I was able to tackle the frightening memories. I faced what life had given me and the biggest fear of all, how to deal with the consequences of this murder. My book...SURVIVING THE DEATH PENALTY... is the true story of one of the most heinous crimes committed in Indiana...the Patrick Gilligan Family... The crime, the criminal Donald Ray Wallace Jr., the victims and the unrest this death penalty wait held for 25 years. It is a parallel story of both the criminal, the victims and their lives. This story is not only about a cold blooded crime, but also about the journey one travels as a victim. This is the story from the initial crime to its conclusion, with twists & turns that most average people seldom understand or endure. This book tells of the Death Penalty wait for both the criminal and the victims and how their lives are forever intertwined. Stories such as this one are few and far between. Crimes happen in the millions but the victims story, along with the criminal's story, are often not told in their entirety.