Christian Chronicle

Forgiving Carla’s killers

Twenty-five years ago, a Harding University junior was raped and murdered. Her parents found peace by sharing their Christian faith with the men responsible.

By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle

Easter Sunday 1995 was a beautiful day for Roy and Jeanie Willmon.

Blue sky. Temperatures in the 70s. Their daughter, Carla, home for the weekend.

The 20-year-old junior at Harding University in Searcy, Ark., had made the 250-mile drive to East Texas to celebrate the holiday with her family.

Her parents bought her a new pink outfit, which she wore to worship with the North Ridge Church of Christ in Mount Pleasant. The town of 16,000 is just off Interstate 30, about 65 miles west of the Arkansas state line.

Laughs were plentiful that weekend, as they tended to be when Carla was around.

“Her older brother, Curtis, came up. We were all together, and it was a very sweet weekend,” Jeanie said. “She was just always a joy to be around. She said funny things without even meaning to.”

Before returning to Harding that afternoon, Carla hugged her mother. Then she hugged her again. And again and again.

Finally, she got into her white 1988 Chevrolet Cavalier and pulled out of the driveway.

As she turned toward the highway, the junior education major glanced at her parents through the side mirror and smiled.

Read the full story.

This story appears in the May edition of The Christian Chronicle.

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