“We kind of looked at each other and said, ‘We have to stop this,’” Cliff says. “We have to forgive.”


It was late on Jan. 17, 1985, one of the longest days of their lives. There had been people around them for hours but he came to the door the moment they were alone, as though he’d been waiting outside for the others to leave. He was dressed in black and they recognized him from news coverage, though they couldn’t quite place it at the time. He stood outside their house in the dark, in the cold.

“I’m the parent of a murdered child, too,” he said. “I’ve come to tell you what to expect.”

Cliff and Wilma Derksen had identified their daughter’s body at the hospital just hours earlier. They were in shock, reeling, but still they invited the man into the warmth of their kitchen and offered him the fresh cherry pie one of their friends had made. Then he

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