Thanks to friends and strangers who helped her raise $4,000, Tina Curl is going on a grim road trip – to witness the execution of the man who raped and killed her 9-year-old daughter some 22 years ago.
Curl, who lives in the upstate New York community of Lake Luzerne, plans to drive to South Dakota to see justice done to Donald Moeller. The 60-year-old Moeller has been in prison for more than two decades as his case wound through the courts. He was convicted of murdering Becky O’Connell in 1992, but won a new trial at which he was again convicted. He was sentenced to death in 1997, and a judge ruled in July the execution must be carried out between Oct. 28 and Nov. 3.
"Everybody wants to put me down because I want to be there to see the execution. Unless you've walked in my shoes, don't judge me.
- Tina Curl, mother of murdered girl
Fifteen years later, Curl wants to see it happen – even though some critics tell her she should “let it go.”
"Everybody wants to put me down because I want to be there to see the execution," Curl, 50, told The Associated Press. "Unless you've walked in my shoes, don't judge me. Don't tell me what you would do if it happened to you. You don't know until it happens to you."
But not everybody puts her down. When her pleas for help financing the 1,400-mile drive to Sioux Falls, S.D., gained publicity, donations flowed in to a PayPal account she set up from as far away as Alaska. Curl set a goal of $4,000 to cover gas, hotels, meals and other travel costs, and said any extra money would go toward unpaid bills from O'Connell's funeral, she said.
Moeller kidnapped O'Connell from a Sioux Falls, S.D., convenience store where she went to buy candy. He drove her to a secluded area near the Big Sioux River where he raped and killed her. Her naked body was found the next day, her body stabbed repeatedly and her throat slashed.
After circuit court Presiding Judge Kathleen Caldwell ruled in July that Moeller must be executed in the fall, the killer said through his attorney that he accepts the execution as the consequences of his actions.
Curl has said she doesn't believe Moeller's execution will help bring her closure, but she said she needs to be there.
Curl, who has battled alcoholism and suffered a heart attack and quadruple bypass in May 2003, is on disability. Her husband, Dave Curl, who is not Becky's father, has been out of work for about a year, and the couple lives on $720 dollars a month in disability.