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Thursday, June 13, 2013

June 12, 2013

Dear Readers~

On June 12, 2013 at 7:13pm my brother, William, took his last breath on this earth and began his journey to the other side. His last words were, "Set me Free!" and his soul is indeed free now to continue his work helping others.  Awaiting him were my mother and father with open arms and other family members and friends who went before. William's reunion with his loved ones is a joyous event.  

Across the street from Florida State Prison a vigil gathering honored William's life and the people who tirelessly seek to abolish the death penalty. Mark Elliott of Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty gave the opening speech and I was able to read an excerpt from William's blog.  Two of Florida's recent exonerees from Death Row, Seth Penalver and Herman Lindsey, held a bell which people rang with a hammer while reciting quotes of love and hope.  The Gainesville Citizens against the Death Penalty read a thank you letter from William encouraging them in their fight against capital punishment.

As William's final minutes on earth were approaching, a butterfly came nearby and gently flew around me while a beautiful cumulus cloud above the prison formed a silver lining at the top edges.  The sun behind the cloud rose through the top edge and a golden sunburst crowned the cloud.  I had the distinct impression of William rising above the earth and soaring to the heavens.  I felt his presence in my heart and a calm enveloped me as I realized he was finally free and flying home on wings of Light.

I was reminded of my final visit with him earlier that morning when he embraced me, Traci and Jan and with a radiant smile on his face said, "How can I be sad with all this immense love flowing into my heart from you and everyone who is sending their Love?  My heart is overflowing."  

William only thought of others and was so humbled by the outpouring of love and kindness he received from loved ones and people all over the world he never knew before.  His life has made an astounding impact on others and his writing will continue to do so.

There are two final blog entries that I will receive when I arrive in California and will post from there.





48 comments:

IamAsylum said...

Lisa,

I am so sorry for your loss and that of your family. My thoughts were with you all day yesterday and today... I'm so sad. I have read almost all of his letters that are posted on this site and have 74 pages left of, a Checkered Past. It's hard not to love William when you read his words. I'm glad he's finally free, but feel the world lost something so great in him. It is such a loss to know that there will be no more letters. I look forward to the last 2.

Barbara said...

My thoughts are with you, Lisa. God bless you ~ he has Bill now.

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad that he was at peace at the end and that will perhaps give you consolation,Lisa.
I had a very moving letter from my own penpal in Florida this morning asking me not to mourn too much if he suffers the same fate as Bill.
So many start out on Death Row as deeply flawed men and women and end their lives changed individuals and an inspiration to all who choose to listen.
God bless from UK

Helen Barker said...

Thank you for posting this Lisa. I cried when I read about the butterfly. Bill was a lovely man and I am sure Florida is no safer tonight than it was last night. A waste of a life.

My heart goes out to you and your family and friends. Remember Bill is now in a better place, away from the hell he has had to put up with all these years.

God Bless

jay said...

my heart go out for you and your families

Kaitlin Armstrong said...

I am so sorry. My heart reachea out to you.

Ray Watford said...

Godspeed Bill. Lisa, Bill was very lucky to have known such love. A lot of people in and out of prison have never known such love. So I suspect he did feel that love and it did indeed make his journey a little easier. He is indeed free.

Best Ray,

Anonymous said...

Normally I support the death penalty but not in this case. What he did was wrong, and he should serve life in prison, but I disagree with capital punishment in this case. I just discovered this blog a few weeks ago and spent hours one day reading every word of every blog post. I could not turn away from it. I will greatly miss these posts and it is a shame what happened to your brother. Thoughts and prayers with you and your family.

Eleanor Davis said...

beautiful. He is at peace now, and free, wherever he is. He deserved better than this, and you deserved to have him around as a brother much longer. But I am glad that his spirit is finally free.

Sarah S. said...

I came across this story last week. I blinked and choked back tears as I realized how close the end was for him. I have read about a dozen of the oldest entries and just as many of the newer. I hope to eventually read them all. I am new to this site, but I prayed for resolution. I am now praying for you and yours during this very trying time...

AJLind said...

Thank you, Lisa, for helping me and my family and I'm sure everyone else who loves Bill for sharing this information with us. The death penalty is not just and not right because the people who commit crimes (and I am well aware that Bill did NOT kill anyone for which he gave his life) are not the same when they are put to death and secondly, how can we as a civilized society lead by example when we allow our government to kill people? Someday our descendents will look back on history and will view the death penalty as a very dark time in American history. I hope you write a book, Lisa, on your life and Bill's life and the journey with Bill on death row. Lastly, we are here such a short time and we all meet the same end that Bill and others do and before we all know it, our turns will be here. God bless you and I will always pray for you and your family and I thank you for being so loving to so many strangers. God bless you from me, my husband, and my four children. Alexandra Lind ajlind@gmail.com

Vladd77 said...

:'(

Donna Valentine said...

Thank you so very much for posting your brother's letters.
He used that time to become the person he had no doubt always been.
I feel so honored to have gotten to read the journey he went through as he waited - honored and deeply moved.

Carole said...

Thank you for letting us know, especially about the vigil and the butterfly. They are comforting.

From now on, I intend to sign all posts Light & Love, in honor of Bill and in protest of the Death Penalty.

Peace.

Light & Love,
Carole

Vincent said...

God bless you and God bless your brother!
Peace and Love to all.

Unknown said...

Hello,
My sympathies on your brother's passing. From what I've read about him, he seemed to be a strong, insightful and courageous man, and I can't imagine the pain he must have suffered those last few weeks.

I hope that his writings will live on so that others might learn something about their own lives and help heal this horribly wounded world.

Sofia

David Scott said...

Our thoughts are with you. Bill sounded like he was a very strong man.

Teresa Pruitt said...

Lisa and family, my heart goes out to you in your time of sorrow. I know from what I've read about your brother he is in God's hands now. And as you said with family members who have gone on before. I am so glad he was at peace.
I just found this site a few days ago and have been pouring over all of it.
Thank you to each and everyone who has has let me share a part of their life.

Mike Firesmith said...

I have always been a proponent of execution and I am not sure I have read anything here that changes my mind about it yet. But as a writer I find myself compelled to read more and perhaps in this I will understand what has happened and get to know who you have lost.
A friend of mine was murdered many years ago and her death haunts me still. It occurs to me your loss will be as personal as mine and in this, I cannot see justice now.

Anonymous said...

Just read the story on CNN about your bro. He was very insightful in his words. Told how it was sad to c him go. Condolences to u and your family.

Anonymous said...



I am very sorry for your loss although William is still very much alive in you and all those he inspired, and will continue to inspire...

..remember that energy is never lost or destroyed, only transformed...


..romina

Tom said...

Love and Light, Bill. We'll meet up on The Other Side

Anonymous said...

May Bill rest in peace where he no longer has to witness such mistreatment of prisoners. As he said in one of his letters, may he never forget the things he did wrong so that if he gets a chance to come back to this earth may he live a good life.

I hope you and the rest of your family can finally have peace as well. I also want to thank you for having the heart to share your brothers thoughts and life stories.

Jeff and Cici

Eldestructor said...

May your brother William rest in peace, it's unfortunate that he had been mixed up in such a misguided crime because it's clear he could have done great things on earth. I hate the death penalty as practiced. This sense of vengeance is so tied to the American experience-we invade Iraq as retribution and kill thousands of innocents in the process...committing a human sin of immeasurable weight. If the death penalty is to be used it can't be done just to satisfy our desire for revenge. Saying it's the law doesn't get us off the hook.

Anonymous said...

I have no comment regarding the death penalty. Obviously being in prison had a profound effect on your brother, and his intelligent writings on his thoughts and experiences have brought sympathy from many people - however, another person lost his life as well...someone who deserved as much as your brother. Even if your brother didn't pull the trigger on the victim, he was directly involved. The punishment for serious crimes is substantial, and I'm sure your brother knew that when he decided to commit his crime. I wonder if your brother's life would have turned around had he not been caught. Still, I'm sorry for your loss.

Anonymous said...

I can't help but think that Fred Griffis never had a chance to say goodbye to his family.

Heather from Florida said...

Hello, I am a new visitor here after reading the article on CNN re: your brother. Unfortunately at the end of his earthly life. I do hope you will keep this blog up despite this. I am hoping to begin reading what I believe will be a profound collection of posts. I am sorry for your loss just as I feel sorry for the loss that the family of the victim also has endured. Sadly, your brother's execution does not feel to be justice in this case in my heart and I wish all of you peace, somehow. Thank you.

jay said...

hmmm Lisa im still hurting from this pls stay strong. p.s R.I.P William...

clara said...

BILL will be forever in my heart and thougts .we were more than friends for many years .i got his last letter the day before he passed away ,he wrote i suspect you and i will meet again ,clara,under better circumstances,either on the other side ,or in another life!i will miss you .love and peace BILL

Song Lyon said...

I do not believe in the death penalty. I am sorry for you. I am sorry for the victim who lost his life.

Carole said...

I'd like to think that as we evolve we begin to understand the nuances in life - and one of them is present in some of these comments.

Yes, Fred Griffis died during the commission a crime that Bill was involved in and no, it wasn't fair to Griffis or his family. However, allowing Bill to write of his changes and growth over the years and allowing his friends and family to grieve his state decreed death, is in no way disrespectful of Fred or his family.

I think we gain much more by allowing ourselves to grow into the light than by stubbornly sticking with a dark outlook. It is a choice which path we take.

Light & Love,
Carole

jammarques said...

So sad DEATH PENALTY..I think of it since Caryl Chessman in the 60's.NO FAIR BY NO MEANS!
Sorry for your loss!

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry for your loss.

For the last half hour or so, I've been sitting in front of my computer drafting words that might lift you through this sadness. But as I reread your brothers posts, I see that this is unnecessary: each letter is so pointedly hopeful and loving. He has made sure to offer you the support that you will need as you learn to live, missing him.

I came to this blog because I know a lot about the prisons in Florida (and even a bit about this case, in particular). Perhaps I will comment again in the next few weeks. But, for now, I think all that is appropriate is for me to add my sorrow and support.

It is not enough, but I know that it will do - because it is all that we have.

Please take every care,

jan

Anonymous said...

To the family of William,

I am so truly sorry for your loss. I heard about William and this blog about a week before his execution. Though i didn't know him, i cried so hard as if he was a great friend of mine.

Part of me regrets not finding out about William alot sooner as i would have loved to be his pen pal and get to know this amazing, smart,loving and talented man. The other other part of me is glad i didn't know sooner because his loss would have been all the more painful. I cried and felt such a deep hole over a man i didn't even know existed nor did he know i did either.

I know people arw going to chop me down for what im about to say but ao be it. Freedom of speech, right? Im sorry for the victims family but i feel William wasn't the one who pulled the trigger, so why was his punishment more extreme? It doesn't make any sense to me. There are people in this world who have committed such sick, heinous,insane crimes and received a lesser sentence. How is this considered fair? What kind of justice system is this? Does it depend what mood someone is in?

Sorry for my vent...i just feel some cases are unfair and unjustified. William had SO much to offer and share with the world. He would have beem able to share it all for mamy more years had he received life instead of death. I hope your family finds solace in knowing how many people he has touched from all over the world. I'm honored to have found this blog and know William through my heart and spirit. I will never forget him.

God bless all of you. Always remember he is with you wherever you go. He shares every memory with you along the way. He comforts you and gives you the strength during times you don't have it. When you laugh, he is laughing right along side of you. When you cry, he catches the tears. EVERy breath, Every moment, Every step...he is there.

Live, laugh & love,
April

Anonymous said...

I am British living in England but I love the USA being very lucky to have visited Pensylvania and California on many Occasions. The one thing I don't like about the USA is its persistance in executing certain of its criminals. I think it is an indication of where you are as a society how you deal with your serious offenders. I will not judge your brother, or his guilt or innocence, but I will judge the USA on its actions in killing its own citizens. My thoughts are with you, your family and your brother as well as the family of the man who died for whom your brother has been executed. I hope all involved can live happy contented lives and that the USA, a place I want to visit again, will cease this barbaric act.

P J Westerman said...

Hi Lisa,

It’s a bizarre world we live in…! As I sit here typing this short message I have Bill’s letter that arrived on the 11th June framed and on my wall, even at the end of his time with us he was writing away, I’ve never felt so humbled by a letter before. The day itself felt totally out of sync, the only other time I felt like this was on the first anniversary of the 7/7 bombings in London, I was one of the lucky ones on the Piccadilly line. That day felt as if it had been frozen in time.

I was frustrated and bewildered by Governor Rick Scott’s response to everything, stating that he was “just part of the process”. Talk about hiding from the truth and not taking any responsibility. I’m in the process of writing to Leo, in the letter I have stated that “I don’t know what to do, but I do know something has to happen”. It really is about time that the voters in the US take a good look at themselves, and it’s about time their elected servants (the Governors) started behaving in a manner that fits with all that the US portrays itself to be to the world. Can any American truly say (with their hand on their heart) that their country is an example of good, of right, of honesty and fairness in the world with such a horrific attitude towards life? Those on death row are not a “process” they are human beings, the conveyer belt ideology of justice that allows the elected governors to wash their hands of any guilt is despicable, and those that believe in the system are an embarrassment to mankind.

I didn’t know Bill personally but the final paragraph in his letter speaks volumes of how America should be seen. “Paul, I thank you for your great letter and your support. No matter what happens to me I will remain humbled by the tremendous support from around the world that I’ve received over the past month. Keep your chin up and thanks for caring. Your friend, Bill.”

Apologies if I got a little bit political there …. You have my email so drop me a line at any time as I feel that the work has only just begun…! (sounds ominous doesn’t it..!)

Your friend from across the pond.

Paul

Lori said...

Certainly he is "free" now as he was released from the physical body and will now continue on in the non-physical. Your attitude on the "death experience" is a very good one indeed!
May you continue to heal...

Chris F said...

During my meditation time, I envisioned myself in Bill's prison cell, with one arm wrapped around him for strength and comfort. I believe he felt it. Death is but just another moment for the eternal soul. Bill is truly free now.

Anonymous said...

When are Bill's final two blogs going to be posted?

anabel fernandez said...

My thoughts are with you God bless you.

From switzerland
Anabel

jay said...

my heart is still broken and I'm hoping to hear from you if doing well.

Conor said...

So sorry for your loss. The death penalty is such a joke in this country. We try to teach/deter people that killing is wrong, by killing more. While my sympathies go out to the victim of the case that led William here, marching someone into a room and strapping them down only to end their life is not humane, nor is it a penalty. It's a shame that the victim's family have so much rage in their hearts that they couldn't find it in their hearts to give mercy. Anyone can wish for death out of revenge, but it takes a truly courageous person to forgive. The death penalty is nothing more than a 'gang banger' mentality; "Homie in the hood killed my homie, so I'm gonna blast that fool".

We're far from an enlightened society. People need to do some soul searching. I have no sympathies for people who support the death penalty. This is a violent enough culture as it is. Maybe some should take a look at other cultures that have no death penalty and research WHY their murder rate (per capita) is way lower than ours is.

Anonymous said...

Bill seemed like a decent guy at this point in life. Obviously it took him being in jail for almost his whole life to become this person. I am in favor of the death penalty - I do believe it gives some victims families closure. Bill knew the risks he was taking when he agreed to try and free another prisoner. It was a horrible choice with a horrible outcome.
The thing I find interesting is that since Bill was intelligent and articulate people seem to feel that the world is losing an important person - as if the inarticulate and less intelligent people on DR aren't as valuable. It's a sad situation, and there are no winners here, but Bill's own choices put him here - it's a shame he wasted what could have been such a wonderful life.

Conor said...

In reply to the Anonymous who said; "Bill knew the risks he was taking when he agreed to try and free another prisoner." - I have this to say to you;

We hold less than 4% of the world's population, but hold well over 25% of the world's prison population. We have more laws here than anywhere else in the world. Most people are in prison for crimes that are pretty weak and don't belong there to begin with. If we were Canada, the prisoner William was trying to free likely wouldn't be there and the guard would still be alive, as would William.

We're a society that is hell bent on locking people up because society wants a quick and easy way to punish people. If a person does something bad, people want swift and fast justice by throwing them in prison and sweeping all the problems under the rug as quick as possible.

Murder is horrible, I agree. But the US is notorious for murder. This country was founded on murder. We invade other countries with 'legal murder'.

Look at the bigger picture.

When people come to realize that prison doesn't correct a thing, when people realize that our violence in nature is a problem and we start to correct it, only then will we be on the right track.

I could continue to rant on, but there are likely too many ignorant and naive people out there who this will upset.

alfredo arioni said...

I comment from italy and, for me, it is really incredible that death penalty is still applied in a modern state. I am sorry for William, I am sure he is in a better place now. R.I.P.
Alfredo

Gerry Thomas said...

Dear Lisa,

I am so very sorry for your loss. I am glad I found Billy's blog last year and read his book though I do regret that I did not know about it sooner. I am also glad that I got a chance to email him via your assistance and I am grateful to you for that.

What a wonderfully strong and loving sister you have been to Billy all these years. I believe that much of what he had to endure throughout the past years was based on the tremendous amount of love and support that you gave him. And as he stated in your most recent blog; "How can I be sad with all this immense love flowing into my heart from you and everyone who is sending their Love? My heart is overflowing" really shows what you accomplished for him all these years and how much he appreciated it.

As you can see from the majority of these comments, we will miss Billy very much and I think I can speak for all by saying; we truly appreciate you, not just for the love you showed Billy, but also for the loving kindness you have shown his friends and acquaintances by assisting us in communicating with him.

My Prayers are with you and your family.

E Michelle said...

Wow. Words cannot even express what I felt as I read his last few letters. I have met monsters...and he was far from one. Wishing you peace and comfort.

Anonymous said...

To Connor:

I'm not among upset by your reply. I'm just stating facts.

Yes, in an ideal world, criminals would never be punished and would be rehabilitated. They would be released and never commit any crime again.

For argument's sake, let's say the death penalty is wrong in every way and should never be applied.

But we have to deal with reality. The fact is, for now the death penalty exists in some states. I can see the big picture, but this is the current reality. So I'll say it again: Bill knew the potential sentence (despite that's it is wrong), but involved himself in the crime anyway.

This country was founded on murder? I'm not a historian, but I'd say most countries were "founded" on murder. That's usually how territories were acquired, right? Going to war, wiping out native populations or exploiting them. Isn't that still happening today?

I think we all realize we're inherently violent. Understanding it doesn't mean it can be easily overcome. You can't easily change cultural behavior; not quickly anyway.