You are here: Who we are / Murder Victim Family / Bill Pelke
Sunday, December 04, 2016

Bill Pelke, Anchorage AK

Bill authored a book entitled Journey of Hope...From Violence to Healing, which details the May 14, 1985 murder of his grandmother Ruth Elizabeth Pelke, a Bible teacher, by four teenage girls. Paula Cooper who was deemed to be the ringleader was sentenced to die in the electric chair by the state of Indiana. She was fifteen-years-old at the time of the murder.
Pelke originally supported the sentence of death for Cooper, but went through a spiritual transformation in 1986 after praying for love and compassion for Paula Cooper and her family. He became successfully involved in an international crusade on Paula's behalf and in 1989 her sentenced was commuted to sixty years in prison. Over 2 million people from Europe, mostly Italy, signed petitions that Paula be removed from death row.  Pope John Paul II requested mercy from Indiana authorities for Paula. Paula was taken off of death row in 1989 and her sentence commuted to sixty years.
Bill, a retired steelworker, has dedicated his life to working for abolition of the death penalty. He shares his story of love and compassion and the healing power of forgiveness. Pelke has traveled to over forty states and fifteen countries with the Journey of Hope and has told his story thousands of times.

•    President and Cofounder of Journey of Hope...From Violence to Healing;
•    Board Member Journey of Hope…from Violence to Healing; 1997-Present
•    Board: National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty; 1996-2012 , Chair 2004-08
•    Founding Board Member of Murder Victims Families for Human Rights 2004
•    Board Member MVFHR; 2004-Present
•    Incorporator of Murder Victims Families for Reconciliation;1993
•    Board Member MVFR; 1991-1998
•    Board Member; Alaskans Against the Death Penalty 1999 - Present
•    Cofounder Abolitionist Action Committee; 1993
•    Annual Fast and Vigil organizer and participant 1994-Present
•    Author:  Journey of Hope…from Violence to Healing

Quotes

“The answer is love and compassion for all of humanity"

“I am a Christian, and Jesus said, ‘Whosoever has no sin, cast the first stone.’ Under that criterion, none of us can cast the stone of death.”

“The death penalty has absolutely nothing to do with healing. [It] just continues the cycle of violence and creates more murder victims family members. We become what we hate.  We become killers.”

"Hate the sin, love the sinner"

"Revenge is never, ever the answer"

 “Perhaps the greatest part of God’s love is the forgiveness that love brings

Special Pictures – Special People

1.    Ruth Pelke   (NANA)
2.    Journey of Hope Cofounders SueZann Bosler, Marietta Jaeger, Sam Reese Sheppard, George and Bill with Sister Helen Prejean.  
3.    Angels on my left and on my right.  Sister Helen Prejean and Susan Sarandon.
4.    With Desmond Tutu in Rome, Italy for the community of Sant Egidio’s Cities for Life Campaign.
5.    Presenting Journey of Hope book to Desmond by the memorial of Dominic Green
6.    James Allridge III was executed a few hours later.
7.    I met Mairead McGuire, Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1976, in Madrid in 2013.