Twenty-five years is a long time ago. And sometimes, it seems like only yesterday.
Speaking of yesterday, while perusing the Salt Lake Tribune, I noticed an article about a cold case in Idaho that had finally been solved and closed. Stuff like that interests me, so I clicked on the link.
The name W.esley A.llen T.uttle jumped out at me in the first line of the article and my brain skipped a spark. I knew that name. But where? How?
A little further and then this name: S.ydney A.nn M.errick.
My heart landed in my throat.
In 1983, I was 15 and Sydney was 21. She was a young woman from a small town in Idaho. The only daughter in a family with four sons. Her parents were farmers. Hard workers. People of the land. Salt of the earth.
Sydney left her rural Idaho home to go to school in Provo, Utah. She lived in the off-campus student housing complex my mother was managing at the time as a means of extra income. She was a resident assistant and she and Mom hit it off almost immediately. I think they clicked well because they were both small town girls who cherished their small town upbringings and the values and ethics that frontier living instilled in them and because Sydney never had sisters and Mom became like that for her. Every once in a while, Mom would invite Sydney and her roommate over to our house down on 300 South and 400 East for a home cooked meal and some family time.
Sydney was fun and warm and she always had the biggest smile. She was like a pixie. Magical. She lit up a room and you wanted to be around her.
We loved her!
Going to school costs money and Sydney didn't have a lot of it, so she withdrew from The Y* to take a full time job with a construction firm in South Salt Lake. She ended up moving to Sandy, I think.
On September 21, 1983, Sydney had to run some blueprints up to a construction site in Park City. The route would take her up I-80 and over Parley's Summit. Like most starving students, Sydney drove a serviceable, but not necessarily new, car. That day, her car overheated and she pulled off onto the shoulder.
A long-haul trucker, W.esley A.llen T.uttle noticed a young woman in distress and pulled over to help her. Being a trusting soul, Sydney accepted the help. He towed her car to the top of the summit. Then he stabbed her death and left her in her car at the bottom of an off ramp.
Yesterday's Trib article wasn't about Sydney as much as it was about a young 14-year old, developmentally disabled girl from Boise, Idaho, named L.isa C.hambers. For more than 25 years, her murder has gone unsolved. Until Monday.
W.esley A.llen T.uttle finally confessed to that crime, pled guilty, and now the case is closed.
But for those of us who remain behind, who were touched by the lives of Sydney and Lisa, the case is never closed. For those who are Sydney's and Lisa's parents, siblings, aunts and uncles, cousins, grandparents, friends, there can never really be closure--a word that is so over- and ill-used, I'm sick of it.
There is, and always will be, a place in our hearts that is emptier and sadder because of what was taken. There is no closure from that. The cases may be closed, but our hearts are still raw.
W.esley A.llen T.uttle, I hope you rot in hell.
* That's Brigham Young University--BYU--for those wondering what The Y is.