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Sunday, November 18, 2018

Families of murder victims reject feelings of hate


By: Sally Scherer
The Macon Telegraph
October 10, 1994


    Dale Williams hasn’t talked much about his mother’s murder since the day a bullet went through her head in 1980.
    He hasn’t felt like it.  And he hasn’t seen the need.
    It was the kind of murder you might read about in a novel.
    Williams’ mother, Elizabeth, was running for tax commissioner in Stephens County.  Five days before the primary election she was shot at her home.  Her opponent, Donald Addison, was accused of hiring someone to kill her.
    After four trials that took nearly a year, Addison, and the man he alledly arrange the murder with, were acquitted.
    “It was a greed thing, I guess,” said Dale Williams, explaining Addison’s alleged role in his mother’s death.  “There were a lot of politics involved.”
    The gunman, James Castell, was given the death penalty.  Michael Jones, who drove the getaway car, was given a life sentence.  Castell later committed suicide in prison.  Jones is still serving his sentence.
    “My family has never been the same,” said Williams.  “My mother’s parents were alive at the time.  They’ve since died brokenhearted that nothing was ever doe to the person we think was truly responsible.”
    “I’ve just had my feelings on hold,” he added.  “But in the last year or so I’ve tried to get to the point to see where I was, to see how I could make something good come out of it.”
    In the years immediately following his mother’s death, Williams felt hurt, anger and bitterness.  His idea of justice for the crime would be to be able to bring life back to his mother and to make sure a similar crime never happens.  But he knows that isn’t possible.
    Shortly after the crime Williams walked around with a pistol, hoping that one of the people who was involved I the crime would come near him so he could kill them.  The thought of pushing the button on the electric chair was one he found joy in.
    “For me, even at times today, I have the anger that wants to do something about it,” said Williams in a telephone call from his home in Brunswick.  “I don’t think it’s in any of our nature to turn the other cheek.”
    But that’s what Williams has decided to do.  After having people tell him that he should feel better because one of his mother’s killers received the death penalty.  He still didn’t.  He still felt anger.  He still felt empty.
    “The way I felt about wanting to kill one of them was no less of a complete disregard for life than what they felt when they killed my mother,” said Williams.  “Their behavior was consumed by hate and anger.  I couldn’t live feeling that way.  I had to find something else.”
    What Williams found was forgiveness.  He has stopped feeling angry about his mother’s death and has forgiven the men charged with her murder.
    “I can live better forgiving them than I can being angry with them.  There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t replay all of it in my mind, but I’ve let the anger end in me.”
    This week, Williams is traveling through Georgia with a group of like-minded people who are members of the organization, Murder Victims Families for Reconciliation.  The purpose of their “Journey of Hope” is to educate the public about the experience of losing a loved one to murder and the eventual recognition that forgiveness was better than hate.
    “I’m for forgiveness,” said Williams.  “I couldn’t say that two years ago but I can now.  I’m not saying I’m right because I feel this way and everyone else is wrong.  I’m just saying this is right for me.  A complete whole life forgiveness is the way for me.”
    The members of Murder Victims Families for Reconciliation started its journey Oct. 1 and has traveled to Jackson, where Georgia’s death row is located; Atlanta, Athens, Jacksonville, Brunswick and Savannah.
    They’ll be in Macon Wednesday and the journey will end Oct. 16 in Atlanta.
    MVFR is a national organization.  For more information, contact Pat Blane, P.O. Box 54, Atlantic, VA. 23303-0054 or call (804) 824-0948.