Connecting the Dots Connecting the Dots

"We must be the change we wish to see in the world." - Mohandas Gandhi

In a mystery, events are like dots connected backwards. It is easy to understand the picture after the fact, but going forward in a mystery, the dots are separate disconnected points.

Our beloved Susan was full of life. She was a mother, daughter, wife, sister, aunt, cousin, coworker, and friend. She was extremely athletic, had a passion for traveling and adventure, loved to read, enthusiastically recruited and inspired people for projects and teams, generously gave to all those around her, and laughed easily.

Susan's life was ended by her on-again-off-again boyfriend. He was, in our opinion, a jerk, but we never dreamed he was capable of murder and neither did Susan. But, there was always great skepticism about their relationship amongst those closest to her.

More than once, our family sat with him, sharing meals and listening to his juvenile jokes, him needing to be the center of attention. Susan was incredibly smart, and we all wondered what she saw in him.

During an off phase, Susan had invited her youngest sister to join her on a work reward trip to Hawaii. Susan's brilliance shone brightly at work, and her efforts were valued as evidenced by this trip.

A week before the trip, Susan informed her sister that she and the boyfriend were back together, and that she would like to take him instead.

On the second night of their trip in Hawaii, he brutally beat her to death with a piece of granite from their hotel room. Both her co-workers and hotel staff tried to break into the room after hearing cries for help but he had barricaded the door. When a housekeeping employee was finally able to get onto their balcony through an adjacent room, the employee witnessed him beating Susan's seemingly unresponsive body through the window. The hotel employee then entered the room and with the help of others contained him so that he could not leave until the local police arrived.

According to police reports, he was calm and sitting on the bed while on his computer and phone when they arrived.

He was arrested and is awaiting trial in Hawaii.

Details that we learned after the fact - dots that are easy to connect going backwards:

Some facts about violence against women in the United States:

(U.S Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, FBI, National Women's Coalition)

These women are from all walks of life. These women are your sister, your wife, your daughter, your mother, your aunt, your cousin, your grandmother, your friend, your coworker, or even your next-door neighbor.

Violence is not love.

Ask questions. Listen. Speak out.
Connect the dots.

Be the change.

In loving memory of our beloved Susan
November 27, 1966 - May 24, 2011

Artist's Note: I had the pleasure to travel to Seattle, WA and meet with this wonderful family who welcomed me into their home and fed me a home cooked meal just like I was one of their own. Susan came from a loving environment, and she was smart, strong, and adventurous. So, how did she end up with such a person in her life? Sometimes people believe they can help heal the wounded soul of another, not realizing the danger they place themselves. Not much emphasis is placed on prevention of domestic violence in our culture, so it is up to us to learn, see, and heed the warning signs of an abuser. We honor Susan's memory by sharing her story in hopes that you will learn from it and save a life, maybe your own.