Marietta Jaeger Lane
Marietta's seven-year-old daughter, Susie,
was abducted, raped and murdered
In 1973 Marietta and her husband and
five children had been on a camping holiday near Three Forks,
Montana. During the night her seven-year-old daughter, Susie, was
kidnapped from their tent. For over a year Marietta did not know
whether her daughter was dead or alive.
through the beautiful countryside of the Rocky Mountains in Montana,
we arrived at an isolated farmhouse. I had forgotten that the events
we were here to discuss happened 34 years ago and so was slightly
surprised to be greeted by a fragile-looking, white-haired lady.
Sitting in the cosy farmhouse, any apparent fragility was quickly
dismissed by the strength of her character as Marietta shared with
me her traumatic and extraordinary story. She described the days
following the kidnapping - the rage that roiled up in her and how
she fantasised about killing the kidnapper with her bare hands. But
she came to realise that this desire for vengeance would be her own
destruction and she would be no good for her remaining four children
and for Susie - if she should ever come home. Although unable to
feel forgiveness for this man, she committed herself to that aim.
me that one year after Susie was taken the kidnapper rang to taunt
her. During the call she expressed concern for the young man and he
broke down in tears, giving away sufficient detail for the police to
track him down and arrest him. Despite learning that Susie had
actually been killed only a week after her disappearance, Marietta
did not want the murderer executed. She movingly explained that
another death was not fitting for the sweetness and beauty of her
quietly related how the young man admitted to the rape,
strangulation and dismemberment of Susie and the murder of two other
boys and a young woman. There was also evidence connecting him to
several murders in other counties but the prosecutors there were
insisting on the death penalty and he would not confess. Much to
Marietta’s sorrow, and despite being on suicide watch, he succeeded
in taking his own life just hours after his confession.
The 25th anniversary of her daughter’s death took the widowed
Marietta back to South Forks where she met the man she was to marry
and find the peace and happiness that is now so obvious in her life.
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