The crippling loss of a child has the capacity to grip parents in a multitude of complex ways. But for those mothers and fathers who lose their children to abduction and murder, the eventual capture of the perpetrator might provide some closure — with the exception of Tina Curl. The mother admits that’s not what she was after when she saw her daughter’s murderer die by lethal injection.
Associated Press reports that in 1990, 9-year-old Becky O’Connell left home in Sioux Falls, South Dakota to buy sugar at a local store for lemonade. Donald Moeller was later convicted of raping and murdering Becky:
Moeller kidnapped Becky O’Connell…He drove her to a secluded area near the Big Sioux River, then raped and stabbed the girl. Her naked body was found the next day; investigators said her throat had been slashed.
Moeller reportedly contested his conviction for many years, losing appeals on the state and the federal levels. But he eventually confessed in court in July of 2012 that he had “killed. I deserve to be killed.”
Despite that Tina raising funds to travel the 1,400 miles to watch her daughter’s killer die, closure isn’t what she was aiming for. Her husband, David Curl, also echoes that “The death of Donald Moeller is not going to give us closure.” Based on an older and very chilling quote, Tina seems to be an employing and eye for an eye approach to reconciling the menacing demise of her little girl:
“He watched my daughter take her last breath. I want to watch him take his last breath,” Curl told The Associated Press in August. “I’m doing this for her and for me.”
Associated Press describes her as “steadfast in her wish to watch Moeller die,” an execution that she concluded with sharing photographs of Becky the year that she died. In addition, she came bearing an artist’s musings of what her daughter would look like today (she would be 31).
Not long after Becky was murdered, Tina moved to Lake Luzerne, N.Y where she struggled with alcoholism. She has since suffered a heart attack. Yet, in spite of the devastating ordeal, reporters find anger to be absent from her voice when she recounts her reasons for attending Moeller’s execution.
Other reports also suggest that “relief” at the safety of other kids is what drove Tina’s mission:
“It won’t bring me closure,” she has said of Moeller’s execution. “It will bring me relief that he’s dead and he’ll never get to do this to anybody else’s child.”
That assurance alone may be well worth 1,400 miles and thousands more.