11/16/2020 | News release | Distributed by Public on 11/16/2020 07:39
Bill's story is the story of an ordinary man, in whose life a terrible event brought about a great change for him and for the entire movement against the death penalty. At first Bill welcomed the death sentence of the teenager who had killed his grandmother, but a year later he changed his mind. This led him to become one of the leading figures in the fight against capital punishment in the world.
In May 1985, Paula Cooper, a 15-year-old with alcohol and drug problems, with three friends, went to the house of Ruth Pelke, a Bible teacher, who welcomed them thinking she could give them Bible school classes. But the girls were looking for money, hit her, killed her, and ran away with $10, leaving her dead on the ground. When the trial took place one year later, Paula was considered the leader of the group and sentenced to death, despite her young age,becoming the youngest person in the United States ever sent to death row.
Bill used to say: 'At first I thought it was the right decision: nobody will give me my grandmother back, it's the right punishment. On November 2nd of that same year, however, God touched my heart. I understood that my grandmother could never have borne that a young woman is killed. I then reminded myself of Jesus' words: 'forgive and you will be forgiven'. Then my fight against the death penalty in the world began. It started with Paula, with whom I began a wide exchange of letters and then met on the death row. Then a strong movement of opinion arose, when everyone knew that I, Ruth's nephew, was against the death penalty for the teen».
Thanks to Bill Pelke's commitment, 'Journey of hope' was born, a reconciliation movement among murder victims' family members and condemned.
Many people want to remember him. From Suezanne Bosler, victim's family member:
'Love and Compassion for ALL Humanity'
Bill Pelke my dear brother, loved his family so much, his friends….
He was my icon, my confidante, my best friend (31 years), my teacher, my advisor, my counselor, my companion, my spiritual leader..
Bill said, ' I want people to remember me in a happy way, I would like everyone to, smile, laugh, dance and party 'and to especially continue our dp work'… (and as you see in the pic)..he cracked up when I said, and 'cheers to Bill with a 'Sunkist' in your name'…. He continued saying 'celebrate my life journeys and peaceful vigils, singing, holding hands, traveling to spread the word of teasuring life, forgivness and healing and save lives, … ', I add to that.. Bill is loving, compassionate, unconditional love, no walls up, kind, humble, serene, positive to no end, Abolish Death Penalty Patriarch, simple and kind, generous Human….
Instant acceptance from every country/State he shared his story too. Bill made Everyone feel like his best friend, remember he said 'I will accept every invitation to speak' which he did….
Lastly, (as I cry in love and missing Bill) we will celebrate our dear Bills journey in this world by continuing in his name, his message and his Christlike spirit…
He did agree 'that we were allowed to cry a little or a short time, celebrate and get back to work to abolish the death penalty'
This picture I will cherish of our happy go lucky, loving, Bill Pelke …and continue his work' Bill Pelke a disciple of Jesus….We all remember and honor Bill in a 'loving and compassionate'way… He was greeted by Nana, Paula Cooper and more…His earthly body is not alive but, his soul of humanity will be our earth angel and with us forever.
Hugs and love to his dear family, friends and worldwide dp friends and associates…