Interview with Linda White

  • Normal
  • Large video
  • Large content
  • Full video
"rtmpconf":{ type:"flv", file:"rtmp://streaming.lib.utexas.edu/hrda-open/mp4:tav/tav00055/tav00055_vid1.mp4", baseUrl:wgScriptPath + "/extensions/player/", streamServer:'streamserver.ufm.edu/vod', width:"480", height:"320", config:{ showBrowserControls:false }, poster:"/index.php?action=ajax%26rs=importImage%26rsargs[]=%26rsargs[]=480", controls:{ _timerStyle:"sides" } }
Search
Terms:
 
 
 
Table of Contents 
  •  Introductions 
  •  White's background 
  •  Cathy's childhood 
  •  Cathy as an adult and her daughter Amy 
  •  Cathy's disappearance 
  •  Phone call and the night of the murder 
  •  Backgrounds and accounts of the accused 
  •  Aftermath of Cathy's death 
  •  Notifying the police 
  •  Cathy's death is confirmed 
  •  Cathy's funeral and the healing process 
  •  White's career change, life since 
 
Transcript 
  •  LINDA WHITE: This is so funny, because when I came to do a class on grief and loss,  
  •  or a lecture, for Virginia, I couldn’t get my technology to work either.  
  •  I had brought a DVD, or a CD or something, with PowerPoint. 
  •  LYDIA CRAFTS: We are in Tomball, not Magnolia or are we in — 
  •  WHITE: We’re actually in neither one. We’re in a little area, it’s not incorporated, but it’s in the—if anything it’s called Decker Prairie, Tall Pines subdivision. 



    CRAFTS: Okay. 
  •  WHITE: We’re in the Tomball school district but we get our mail from Magnolia. 



    CRAFTS: Okay, so we’re in Decker Prairie.



    WHITE: Prairie. 
  •  CRAFTS: Decker Prairie. Okay. Alright. It’s September 30. My name is Lydia Crafts. I’m here with Linda White in Decker Prairie, Texas and Parish Jefferson is doing the video recording. Okay, so do you want to just start by, I don’t know, giving us a little background? Where did you grow up? Where are you from originally? 
  •  WHITE: I was born in Louisiana and lived in Louisiana for about the first six years of my life. My family moved to Houston and I grew up in Houston. Married. Met my husband and married in Houston and we lived here the first year or so we were married, and we also lived in the Rocky Mountains and in South Texas, near the Mexican border, and then moved back here, and we have lived back here for almost forty years. So, I spent the majority of my life in the area around Houston, Texas. 
  •  CRAFTS: Okay. And how many kids did you have?



    WHITE: We had three. We had a son and then a daughter two years later and another son three years later. Our daughter Cathy was in the middle, between the two boys. 



    CRAFTS: Ok. Ok. Do you want to talk a little bit about Cathy growing up or? 
  •  WHITE: She was an interesting combination of sometimes being very shy and other times being extremely outgoing and vivacious. Probably she was shy when she was younger, and being sandwiched between two boys, she kind of came into her own when she was a teenager. She married early, which I had spent my whole life telling her not to do, since that’s what I had done.  
  •  But she got married, I’m trying to remember how old she was, maybe not as young as I was, maybe she was more like 19 or 20. And she had a daughter, Amy, in 1981. The fall of 1981. And she was, she was beautiful, bubbly--her married name was O’Daniel and a lot of people called her Cathy O. And knew her that way.  
  •  She had, like a lot of her friends, done some experimenting with drugs and alcohol early on, and had then turned her back on all that kind of stuff somewhat before she had Amy, and was active in AA at the time of her death, Alcoholics Anonymous. Probably at that time the majority of her friends were from AA, really, really neat group of kids.  
  •  CRAFTS: And she lived close by to you?



    WHITE: I’m sorry?



    CRAFTS: She lived close by to you?



     
  •  WHITE: We were fortunate that for many years our kids lived close to us even when they left home and got married. Cathy lived about 30 minutes or so from us.



    CRAFTS: And so you got to see Amy a lot?   
  •  WHITE: Oh yes. We saw Amy a lot. In fact, Amy and Cathy were over here almost every other weekend, or almost every weekend, and we became so accustomed to having Amy around, it was like she was a member of the immediate family, you know, so, and we always kept her when Amy was sick, also because I could take her to the doctor, and usually Cathy was working, and so we became used to having her around. And so used to it that if she wasn’t there in a week’s time we started getting antsy for her.    
  •  CRAFTS: Who is Cathy’s husband—he was?



    WHITE: His name was Phillip. But Cathy and Phillip were separated when Amy was a year old. And they divorced a couple of years after that, and he wasn’t really around very much. I’ve seen it happen with other families, dad just kind of drops out of sight.  
  •  It gets hard, I didn’t always understand the neglect, but I do now. The coming and going and being in her life, and yet not really being in there as much as he wanted. He just kind of gradually faded from the picture. And he was having a few life problems of his own about that time.    
  •  CRAFTS: So when did you hear about what happened with Cathy, the night when she was murdered?  



    WHITE: She was missing for five days, and the first day I think we actually knew the first day, but that was like at a gut level, not at an informational level. She had gone the night before to meet a friend and have coffee or dinner, he was having relationship problems and they were good friends.  
  •  Cathy was engaged to someone else, so it was not anything but a platonic relationship between the two of them. But she never came home. And that was I guess you’d say the night of November 17, November 18 was the day when I was awakened by a call from Amy saying her mother had never come home, or her mother was not there. She didn’t know about whether she came home or not.  
  •  And my son Steve, who is three years younger than Cathy, he had recently graduated from Texas A&M, petroleum engineering degree, and the three of them, Cathy, Amy and Steve were living together in a home that belonged to some friends of ours. Steve had apparently gotten up and gone to work that morning and not even noticed that Cathy’s car wasn’t there, and so Amy called me.  
  •  My husband had taught her, this was pre-cell phone days for most people, but my husband had taught her to call our number when she was only three years old. So she called and she said she was in the house by herself. Of course, I couldn’t believe she would be there all by herself, but I asked her, I said, “Put the phone down and go downstairs and look really, really good, and including out on the patio.”  
  •  I thought maybe her mom might be sitting out there smoking a cigarette or something. And she looked all through, she came back on the phone and said, “No, nobody was there. “ And so I kept her on the phone talking to her while I got dressed and threw myself together as best I could, and told her when I finally had to put the phone down and go to plant herself in front of the television set and don’t move until I got there and don’t open the door for anybody but me.  
  •  So I drove over there, which was about 30 minutes, and before I left I had called her, I called her fiancé. I had met him only one time. But he was a really nice young man. He was a physician at a hospital in the Woodlands/Conroe area in emergency medicine. And they had met through friends. And we had met him a couple nights before this and as it turned out, we didn’t realize it until after he left, but he came from a family of doctors.  
  •  His father had been a doctor and his brother, who also lived in the Woodlands with him was a doctor, and after they left I got to realizing because we had talked about where he was from and we had lived there once, and I remembered that his father had been our doctor, which is the wildest of coincidences, that we would have lived in Cortez, Colorado in this little bitty town and had Willis’s father for our doctor. 
  •   But, I called him and asked him if Cathy was by any chance there. It occurred to me that she had gone, perhaps over to see him at his home and maybe fallen asleep and not gotten home. And he said, no, he hadn’t seen her since Sunday night when we were all together. So, I didn’t tell him anything that was going on, I just thanked him. And so I’m driving over to pick up Amy and get her some breakfast and take her to her pre-K class on [FM] 1960 and I’m thinking the whole time that I’m really angry with my daughter.  
  •  How irresponsible to not come home and take care of your child. And that was the beginning of that feeling, of that whole week, I’m telling myself up here that I’m angry but down in my gut I’m not feeling anger. I’m feeling fear. And I got to the home and got Amy all dressed and got her ready to go, and picked up the phone and called my son Steve at work. And asked him how could you leave her in the house alone? Well, he hadn’t even noticed. He left really early and he was probably half in a fog.  
  •  And he said he would do some phoning and try to find Cathy. They had lots and lots of mutual friends. And so I took Amy to her school and went on to my mom’s house in Houston. I had already made a commitment to my mom to spend the day with her. November 18 was her birthday. And we were going to just spend the whole day at her house. She was going to fix us lunch. She didn’t want to go out to lunch.  
  •  She just wanted to play Rummy Q all day long. And so that was her present. And so I told her of course what was going on and I called my husband from there and Steve kept calling back and saying he couldn’t find anybody that knew where she was and of course as the day went on, I got more and more anxious, still trying to tell myself I’m angry, but very, very anxious.  
  •  About 4 o’clock I got a call back from my husband, some friends of ours had invited us out to dinner in Houston, since I was already there and John was there at work and November 18 was her birthday too, and we were very close friends. And so I got Steve to pick up Amy and take care of her until I could finish dinner and come by and pick her up and bring her home with us, ‘til we found out something about Cathy. 
  •   So we went on to dinner with friends and tried to keep up a good front. Dewey didn’t say anything that was going on at that point. Steve, as soon as he picked up Amy and got home got a call, and it was a young man who said, “I’m calling for Cathy. I’m a friend of hers. Are you Willis her fiancé?” And he said, “No. I’m Steve her brother.  
  •  What’s going on?” And he said, “Well, she just wanted you to know that she needed to get away for a few days and think some things over, and not to worry about her and she’ll be back in touch.” And Steve said in pretty heated terms, “Well, I don’t like the way she’s done this and you can tell her from me that this is a pretty ridiculous way,” etc, etc, using other words. And the young man on the other end said, “Hey man, I just barely know her, don’t get on me.”  
  •  And that  was the end of the conversation. And that call was probably around 6ish, 6 o’clock or so.  And what we didn’t know of course at that time was that was one of the boys that had  killed her. She was already dead and the call was placed to buy them some time.  They had encountered her, two boys, 15 year-old boys, at a gas station somewhere in that  area on [FM] 1960.  
  •  To this day we don’t know what station it was because they were  not familiar with the area and wouldn’t—have never been able to pinpoint where they  were. They encountered her and gave her a sob story, and talked her into giving them a  ride apparently. And we don’t know how far she agreed to take them, but all those—for  many years we thought that she was having car trouble, and that’s why she stopped.  
  •  She  had some radiator leakage problems. And so we thought she had stopped for that reason  rather than just to get gas. So we didn’t believe she had agreed to give them a ride out  to the Angleton/Alvin area, which is Brazoria County, quite a distance from where she  would have encountered them, a good hour. We still don’t know exactly what happened.  But they had a gun and at some point they pulled the gun on her. 
  •   And when they got to  that area, they forced her to drive along out to a field in a deserted area. I’m not 100%  sure exactly where it is. It was one of those things at the time that wasn’t that important  to me. I guess I really don’t want to see it.  But I’m not sure why the boys did what they did in terms of the sexual assault. I’ve  never been sure of why because neither one of them had ever committed anything violent  before.  
  •  They had been runaways, done drugs, the one that I’ve actually met with had tried to hurt himself many times, but neither as far as I know had ever done anything violent  towards another person. So this has always been a mystery to me. But I do know they  were high on drugs and they—I don’t know, high on drugs, high on freedom and power,  they had gotten out of a drug facility where they were supposed to be, but I don’t think  it was a lockdown facility.  
  •  Obviously if it were, it had some glitches. They forced her at gunpoint, both of them raped her in turn while the other one held the gun, and apparently one of their motivating factors was her car. They wanted her car. And it wasn’t much of  a car but it was better than what they had stolen already and put the wrong kind of gas  in. So, they were planning to steal her car and they were arguing over what they were  going to do with her.  
  •  And they finally agreed to shoot her in the leg, to disable her so that  she couldn’t go for help and they could get away. I met with one of them named Gary  and Gary said when the gunshot noise rang out from shooting her in the leg, he said it  was like we were instantly sober from that loud noise. And realized the impact of what  we had done. It was just like all of a sudden, what in the hell have we done here? And he  said, “We decided, we had gone so far that our only option at this point was to kill her.”   
  •  Up until that moment, they didn’t intend to do that. They felt like they were faced with a  couple of really bad choices and they took the one that was best for them at the moment.  The one besides Gary, whose name is Marion, he shot her three times in the back of  the head and she knew it was coming. She put her head down and she actually said she  forgave them, right before they killed her. She said, “I forgive you and God will, too.”  And it was good for me to find out that she said that. That helped a little bit. 
  •  CRAFTS: How did it help you?  



    WHITE: Sorry? 



    CRAFTS: How did it help you to hear that?   
  •  WHITE: Because I never could think about that last few  minutes. I never could allow myself to think about that and I’m not going to say it’s easy  now to think about those last few minutes, few seconds. But the fact that she could say that at the end and then put her head down and wait for it. It’s a little bit better than what  I always imagined.  
  •  Not good, but better. So, they took her car and in her purse on the  floor of the car or whatever was the calling card with the phone number that they called  Steve—that they used to call Steve, and try to buy them some time, and one of the boys,  Gary, was from Greenville, at least that was one of the—that’s probably the last place he  lived with his family.  
  •  And they drove up to Greenville, Texas, which is near Dallas, just  about--I think 30 miles or so east of Dallas. And they were looking, I guess Gary was just  looking for old haunts or whatever, but at this one point they were looking for things to  steal to turn into money and they were at an apartment complex, going through the  carports, and somebody saw them and called the police.  
  •  And a couple of police went out  to that area and on the way they saw the car that had been, I guess described, or anyway  they saw this car pulled over to the side of the road and the boys were in there passed out.  And so they hauled them in to jail and started questioning them and ran a make on the car  to see whose car that was, and that happened pretty early on.  
  •  That must have been  Wednesday that they called the Magnolia Police, which is the—it’s not actually the  closest police place to us but we live in Montgomery County and the closest one is  another county, Harris County. So they called the Magnolia Police to come out to the  house and ask us about the car, because that car was in our name. And the policeman  apparently came to the front door and we weren’t home, and left a card stuck on the front  door.  
  •  Well, we never go in and out the front door, so we didn’t see that card until  Thursday night. But I wasn’t home very much.  The way that I process stress is to be with people and Amy, I took her to school that first  day. I didn’t take her the second day. The third day I did because I had plans with friends  and I kept her as busy as I could and I kept me as busy as I could because by Thursday  things are, things are not looking good.  
  •  And we kept telling ourselves, we kept telling  ourselves that what that boy said was right that she needed time to get away. She and  Willis were engaged and she was two months pregnant. And they had been friends for  like a year and a half, but they’d only been dating a few months, and so I got to thinking, maybe she’s getting cold feet, maybe Willis is, maybe they have decided they’re really  better friends than they are sweethearts, maybe that marriage isn’t what one of them wants. 
  •   Maybe she’s just having a real hard time with this. And so I thought maybe she— and of course just disappearing like that would make her very irresponsible, but I was so  much more willing to believe she’s been irresponsible than to believe anything horrible  had happened to her. And so by Thursday they’d apparently gotten one of the boys to talk  and to admit to having killed somebody and stolen that car.  
  •  And one of the policemen  there was familiar with Gary and his problems. He had a pretty long juvenile record. But  at this point, we’d never called the authorities at all. And one of the policemen—really  sweetheart of a guy there at Greenville called, he also found the calling card in the car  and he called Steve, and talked to him late Thursday afternoon, early evening and when I got home that evening, 6ish, with Amy my husband said, “I’m going to keep Amy busy,  you go call Steve.” 
  •   So I went to call Steve, and Steve told me about the conversation, that  these two boys had been arrested, and they had Amy’s [sic] car. And that’s all he said at  that point. But he wanted to know why we hadn’t reported the car stolen or our daughter  missing, or his sister. And he explained about the phone call and everything and he said,  “It’s time now to call Harris County”—since that’s where she disappeared from.  
  •  Steve  said, “Have you talked to Willis?” And I said, “Not since that first morning and I haven’t  told him anything.” He said, “One of us needs to call Willis. One of us needs to call the  Harris County Sheriff’s Department.” He said, “Which one do you want to do?” I said,  “I’ll call Willis. You call the police.” 
  •   So he called and reported her missing and the car  stolen and I called Willis and Willis was just getting off of a 12 hour shift, 7 AM to 7 PM and he said he would be over as soon as he could go by the house and feed his dogs, and  then he’d come over.  And we didn’t know it but the minute Steve called Harris County Sheriff’s Department,  they dispatched two officers in a car to Greenville to question the boys.  
  •  And once they  were satisfied what had happened, they sent two more in another car so they could bring  the two boys back separately and never let them be together. That was some time Friday,  it might have been the wee hours of the morning. But they did not come and tell us about  Cathy until Saturday afternoon at 1 o’clock and the reason why they didn’t is because one  of the boys had given a written confession and one only an oral.  
  •  He wouldn’t do anything  in writing. And so they had him show them where Cathy’s body was and where the gun was, where they had disposed of the gun, because that physical evidence would tie him to  the crime as well as tie the other boy with the confession.  So, until they came back early Saturday, they didn’t want to come and so we had  probably an additional twenty-four hours of torture before we found out the truth.  
  •  But I  don’t fault them for that because I think it would be so much more difficult in many  respects to have somebody come and say, “We think you’re daughter’s been killed.” But  until they actually saw her, they couldn’t tell us. I was not here when the officer came.  My husband was here actually all by himself. Steve had gone hunting with a friend of his  and his friend’s dad. And that was his way of dealing with it. He did not—he was  keeping busy too in his own way.  
  •  He said, “I’m not going to sit here and sit vigil for my  sister, I’m just not going to do it.” I was pretty angry with him for leaving me but he had  to deal with it the way he had to deal with it. And I did have my husband. And we had  friends that came over and people were with us a lot. That Saturday I had already had  plans with a bunch of my aerobic friends, Amy and I both had plans to go to this special  event at Town and Country Mall. Some of our aerobic teachers were involved in it.  
  •  It  was promoting a new opera called Can Can and it was once more a way to keep us busy.  And sleeping was so hard at this point because you can’t be busy, you have to sleep. It  was like the worst five days in the world. It was just unimaginable how horrible it was  because more and more and more, even before they came to the door, we realized, we  couldn’t hang on to our fairy tale that she was just off trying to think of what to do. So I  was gone, and my poor husband, bless his heart, had to hear the news all by himself.  
  •  He  told me later that he opened the door and I think it was a plainclothesman, but he most  have looked real official or had his badge maybe on his pocket and when he came to the  door my husband looked at him, and my husband said, “Oh no.” And the policeman said,  “Yes. I’m sorry to say.” And that’s all he had to say. John knew. He came in and told my  husband he would need him to come and identify our daughter. And my husband said,  “All I could think of was I needed to do that before you got home so that you wouldn’t  have to do it.” 
  •   And he said, thinking that Willis was a doctor, maybe he could do that  easier than he could, he called him. But the officer said, “Do you have some pictures of  your daughter?” And he said, “Yes, I can find pictures.” And so he gave him a picture and he said, “Have you got a phone I can use?” And he went in our bedroom and called  and came back out and said that from the picture he had identified our daughter himself  and that my husband wouldn’t have to come.  
  •  I never heard of anybody doing that. But  we were so grateful. So John called Willis back and said that he wasn’t going to have to  do it.  I was trying to keep busy but was absolutely miserable. By this time, my butterflies are  playing hockey, they’re just awful. We went out to lunch at Luby’s and I couldn’t eat  a blessed thing. I tried but I just couldn’t eat. And we fooled around at the mall and we  came back to the friend’s house where we had all met and I’m just visiting and doing  anything to keep from having to come home, and as I said earlier, that was in the days  before most people had cell phones.  
  •  I didn’t have one. And people that did have them,  they were this humungous things, or I’d have been calling my husband all day long. But  I’m thinking that I called before I left my friend Caroline’s house and maybe nobody  answered or the line was busy or something—I don’t know, maybe I didn’t call. Maybe  I just came home. I stopped at the pharmacy to pick up a prescription. I had something  I couldn’t get rid of that week and I think more than anything it was due to stress.  
  •  But  when I asked the person if I could use their phone and I called home and I said, “Have  you all heard anything?” My son—John by this time, my husband, had called him. “Have  you heard anything?” And Johnny said, “Not really.” Which of course was a big lie. This  was about 4:30, but he didn’t want to tell me over the phone. And I said, “Well, I’m at  the pharmacy and I’m on my way home. Do y’all need anything?” And Johnny said,  “Yeah, we could use some Cokes and Diet Cokes.”  
  •  Why in the world he made me do  that, I don’t know, but I guess it was just the first thing that came to his mind, and we did  because by this time the house was full of people. So I stopped and got some Cokes and  Diet Cokes and it’s middle of November, actually pretty late November by now. This is the 22nd that I’m talking about, and even though we have the house at the back of our five acres, in November you can see a lot more quickly, the house and the driveway and  so forth because of the trees that are not evergreens and have lost their leaves.  
  •  And our trees are about half and half I guess. So I was about halfway down the driveway when I saw all the cars. And when I saw all the cars, that’s all I needed to see to know that Cathy was gone. Now Amy is five years old and she sees all those cars and her immediate first  thought is, “We’re having a party.”  I had seen at a church on the way home, about halfway home, I’d seen one of those portable signs, like a marquee and it said something like, “Those who love the Lord never see each other for the last time.”  
  •  And I remember vividly seeing that sign and  thinking, “I hope that message doesn’t pertain to me today.” I remember that. I thought  about that sign so many times after that. So, I got up the driveway as best I could. I knew  that there was only—that I wouldn’t be able to pull into the garage. I just wouldn’t have the precision to pull in beside my husband. So I got through the trees, got up there, opened the door and let Amy out. I had a two-door car so I had to move forward and let her out.  
  •  I knew that when she got out and went in the house, they would know I was home. And I couldn’t go in the house. I just sat there in the car. Could not go in. I knew somebody was going to say those words to me and I did not want to hear the words in front of a lot of people, even though I knew from looking at the cars that those were people that loved me and that I loved, and loved my daughter and all that, I just  couldn’t—I couldn’t hear the words in front of anybody else.  
  •  So my husband—so when  Amy went in thinking we’re having a party, my husband and my older son came out.  This was Saturday so Steve was still gone. My husband said, “It’s the worst that you can  possibly imagine.” That’s the first words he said. He said she was raped and murdered  and shot. And then the next thing he said is, “We’ll take care of Amy. We’ll take care of  Amy. We’ll make sure she’s okay and I’ll get you somebody to help you. I’ll get you a  nanny or whatever.”  
  •  He was a rush of words to try and make me feel better. And I just sat  out there for a while. I know I cried, but then after that I think I was just numb. And I  walked in the house and saw everybody. And thank goodness for those people. All of our  closest friends were there by that time because John had had four hours to get them there,  and he had also talked to a child psychologist about how to tell Amy. Because I had  talked to him about that the night before.  
  •  I said, “She’s only five years old. I do not know  how to tell her her mother’s gone, if she is. I don’t know how to do it. And I don’t think  this is something we should do by the seat of our pants. I think we should do it right and  do it the best way possible for Amy.” So my husband had already consulted one of our friends who knew a child psychologist and he had talked to him on the phone and told us  how to tell her, what to do, what to give her, how to make it at least a healthy situation.   
  •  That’s not something that you learn growing up, how to tell a five year old that her  mommy and her almost brother or sister, because she knew her mommy was “pegnet”  she said. She had asked me that, that week, “Did you know my mommy’s pegnet?” I  said, “Yes, I did sweetheart.” Which, of course, is very painful, when she was missing.  That was Saturday, the twenty-second of November and that was five o’clock and by  eight o’clock we were at the funeral home, planning the funeral.  
  •  And all I could think of  was what an obscenity this is. I’ve only had three hours to process this stuff. And anyway  we planned the funeral. My husband wanted to have it as quickly as possible. I think if  he could have had it an hour from then he would have, just to get it over with. And I put  him off until Tuesday, ‘cause I knew enough about it to know that all of these people  will be here to support us, including the day of the funeral, and the next day they’ll all be gone because it’s done.  
  •  And I don’t want to get that over with, I want the people. So I  talked him into waiting until Tuesday. And it was, if you can say that about a funeral, it  was good. It was about her. It was a celebration of her life. The boys had found a Bible  that Cathy had left behind for Amy and had written in it, almost like she knew she wasn’t  going to be there to watch her grow up. So the minister read it at the service and it was a  huge number of people there, just overflowing at the funeral home.  
  •  And all I could think of that whole day. I didn’t cry at the day of the funeral, not one tear I don’t think. Cause  all I could think of was all that love there, all those people. For us and for our daughter, for our sons and all that caring and that’s all I could see. And I guess that’s all I needed to see that day.   CRAFTS: How about the days after the funeral? What was that like?   
  •  WHITE: The day after?  CRAFTS: The days after the funeral.   
  •  WHITE: The first day of the funeral, we still had a house full  of people. The next day, besides family and some from out of town, it was Thanksgiving  week, there was only one other person here besides that. And that was a friend of Cathy’s that had agreed to go up to Greenville and drive her car back home for us. I remember just feeling empty. That’s my most important feeling and strongest memory, just feeling  hollow inside. I wanted to cry, a lot of times I couldn’t.  
  •  And then tears would come at  totally inopportune times. I’m driving down the street. And I hear something on the radio  that reminds me of Cathy. There was a song that they used to play. It had been popular a  few years previously, by Helen Reddy called “You and Me Against the World.” And one  of the lines in that—it’s actually a song of a woman singing to her little son, her very young son. That’s what it’s supposed to be. And the words are, “When one of us is gone and one of us is left to carry on.”  
  •  It’s meant to be in the natural order of things. Some day I won’t be here for you. But all I could think of when I heard that song was that it wasn’t  natural for us. The one of us that was gone was my daughter, not me. That wasn’t right. And it always reminded me of her and my pain, so I’d cry in the car. I cried a lot in my car and when I’d get by myself—I guess that was as good as any—I was by myself in the car, but I’m fortunate it didn’t interfere with my driving.  
  •  And then sometimes in the  grocery store I’d feel like crying for some reason. But when I was all by myself at the  house, I’d seem to dry up. It was very strange. Went back to aerobics two weeks later,  and I’d had plenty of time and lots of friends. I mean my friends saved my life, saved my  sanity for sure. When I went back to aerobics, that very first time I went back, there was  a young woman that I didn’t know that had come. But they had talked about me and she  knew who I was when I came back.  
  •  And she gave me a book called something like, When Going to Pieces Helps Hold You Together. And it was just about a short book, a  hundred pages about grief, written by a hospital chaplain and it was wonderful. She gave  it to me and she gave me the names of some groups and a psychologist and she said to me that she had lost a baby about a year before that and she said this was really helpful to me.  
  •  And she said, “I’ve just included some things that you might want and if you don’t  want them, by all means throw them away.” That was really, really helpful to me. That book I read it in one sitting and couldn’t read enough of it and cried all the way through it. It was very cathartic. I noticed people looking at me and not having a clue what to say  or what to do. I remember that and I remember thinking, “Boy have I ever been there.”   
  •  That was an early thought. So I just asked the instructor, who was the owner of the place,  if I could say a few words. And I said to them--that I could see their hesitancy and I said, “I think I see awkwardness and I’ve been there and I know.” I said, “You don’t have to say anything to me, just don’t avoid me. But if you want to say something, fine. But there  isn’t anything magic that you can do except give me a hug, or pat me on the shoulder or  whatever.  
  •  And that’s great, do that. You don’t have to say anything.” And I could see  that it really helped people. And I always remember that hesitancy. If you go up and say  something or not. And I remember the feeling so well of just knowing I was going to say the wrong thing and screw it up big time. I always felt that way.  
  •  And that was actually  the beginning of some seeds planted in me that bore fruit a few months later, where I  realize that my life had been, I felt like I had two lives now and that Cathy’s death was  almost like a river and that I had stepped over this river, crossed this river into this new  plane of existence and that I knew a lot of things that I had never known before, by this  having happened, things like what I saw other people say and do and experience and I could see myself and how I had been and I thought it’s a shame that you can’t know some of this stuff without having to cross over this horrible river.  
  •  And so I began to think  in terms of what can I do with what I knew now to be helpful to other people. CRAFTS: Right, and that is what led you to go back to school?WHITE: It led me to go back to school. This happened in November and by April I knew that I wanted to go back to school and it just hit me like a flash, as they say an epiphany that I wanted to go back to school and finish my degree and that was what I was going to do with it.  
  •   I was going to try to do like death education, maybe some grief counseling. I had been getting some kind of indirect counseling  because we had started taking Amy for counseling early on. She began to have a lot of  body aches and body problems because she was five years old—she didn’t know what  else to do. But she knew that you could get T.L.C. from physical pains so she just  unconsciously converted everything to physical pains so we started taking her to counseling to deal with that. 
  •  Phil, Amy’s biological father, had heard of, someone had told him about Cathy’s death immediately when they heard it on the news. And he had  come back into Amy’s life and said that he wanted to have custody of her and we felt like  since he had seen her very little in the previous four years, and we had seen her constantly that we thought that was a little unrealistic on his part to just abandon her basically for four years and then step back into her life like nothing ever happened.  
  •  And buoyed by those feelings and our friends and Cathy’s friends who all said they knew Cathy would want us to raise her. So we decided to try to get custody of her and that was a somewhat messy affair and nothing I would ever want to go through again. But based  on an awful lot of history, our history with her, his history with her, just general things they gave us temporary custody and ordered a social study done by the county, through the court, ordered a social study of all of us, psychological evaluations of all of us to see where Amy would be best served.  
  •  It was during my psychological evaluation, and I was filling out some stuff, that I realized that’s what I wanted to do, to go back to school. And study psychology.   
  •  CRAFTS: What was it about filling out that psychological  evaluation? 
  •  WHITE: It was a particular test. I think it’s called the router. If it’s not that it’s the complete a sentence test where lots of sentences like I’ve always felt that, and then you fill it out, first thing that pops into your mind. 
  •  And a whole bunch  of things like that and the one that hit me was that my secret desire has been to. And I  filled out, “to be a psychologist,” without even thinking about it. And I looked at it and  thought, “woah.” But I had read a lot of stuff. Not just pop psychology, but a lot of other stuff too. And I was interested in stuff like that. I just didn’t think I could go anywhere  with it. And didn’t have any particular plans with it, but I did then.   
 
Mark Video Segment:
begin
end
play
[Hide]Copy and paste this link to an email or instant message.
[Hide]Right click this link and add to bookmarks

Metadata

Title:Interview with Linda White
Abstract:In tape one, Linda White discusses growing up in Houston Texas. White has three kids, including her daughter Cathy, who was murdered in 1986 by two fifteen-year-old boys. White recalls her initial reactions towards her daughter’s disappearance, and how she first came to learn of her daughter’s murder. White discusses what was discovered about the boys who murdered her daughter. White also discusses her daughter’s funeral. In tape two, White discusses going back to school to study psychology, attending a group for families of murdered children, how teaching in prison helped her healing process, the concept of restorative justice, and meeting one of the men responsible for her daughter’s murder. In tape three, White continues to describe the meeting. The interview was conducted by Lydia Crafts and took place in Decker Prairie, Texas.
Sequence:1 of 3
Creators:
  • Linda WhiteRole: Narrator
  • Texas After Violence ProjectRole: Collaborator
Contributors:
  • Lydia Crafts Role: Interviewer
  • Parish Jefferson Role: Videographer
  • Nancy Semin LingoRole: Transcriber
  • Morgan SwindellRole: Proofreader
  • Rebecca WilsonRole: Writer of accompanying material
Publishers:Texas After Violence Project
University of Texas Libraries
Date Created:2009/09/30
Languages:eng
Geographic Focus:North America--United States--Texas
Geographic Base:North America--United States--Texas--
Type of Resource:Moving image
Genre:Interview
Identifier:tav00055_vid1
Rights:
    This electronic resource is made available by the University of Texas Libraries solely for the purposes of research, teaching and private study. All intellectual property rights are retained by the legal copyright holders. The University of Texas does not hold the copyright to the content of this file. Formal permission to reuse or republish this content must be obtained from the copyright holder.

Source Metadata

Analog/Digital Flag:physDigital
Carrier Number:1 of 3
Generation:original
Signal Format:NTSC
Duration:00:56:11

Continue with  Video 2 of the TAVP Interview with Linda White

Return to  TAVP Interviews.