Tragedy: A Monster or a Lamb?
Stephanie Michaels had just graduated from high school when she moved to New York City to attend a modeling school. While there she fell in love with a handsome young policeman named Ryan Jenkins. While still in his early twenties, he was already rapidly moving up in the NYPD, and had an eye on eventually being the Commissioner.
During their eighteen-month courtship they discussed many times their plans for the future. Stephanie wanted to be a model, and Ryan wanted a high-profile job in law enforcement. Yet, as they began to discuss marriage, both of them realized that they must be willing to make sacrifices for the benefit of their future lives together.
Stephanie chose to forsake her plans for a modeling career for the man she loved. Ryan (with Stephanie's prompting) realized that the big city was no place to raise a family. Thus, he found a job working for a police force in a small city, and bought a farm in the country a few miles away. He now lived in the "sticks" for the first time in his life. Stephanie found a job as a secretary in a doctor's office in town, and the newly weds were happy with their marriage and the sacrifices they had made for each other.
Their daughter, Megan was born on Ryan and Stephanie's second anniversary. She was a lovely girl who was almost a carbon copy of her mother. As the years passed, Megan showed herself to be a good student and a kind person. Her gentle character combined with her budding beauty helped her to easily become popular at school. By the time she was thirteen, she was already turning the heads of young men much older than her.
That is when Sammy Sloan, a local drug dealer and general loser, noticed Megan. At age twenty-nine, He knew how to impress young, naive girls with his abundant compliments and his fast car. Megan, in her youthful ignorance, completely fell for Sammy's lies, and within a few weeks he had successfully introduced her to the world of wild parties and illegal drugs.
While on her moral freefall, Megan became increasingly depressed and began to tell Sammy that she needed to confess to her folks what she was doing. At first Sammy tried to sweet-talk her, but after a few of these discussions, he began to realize that Megan did not have "what it takes" to live the party lifestyle. So, fearing lest she tell her policeman father (a man Sammy knew too well from his life of crime), he took Megan out to a remote area and murdered her.
Upon learning of their daughter's horrible fate, Ryan and Stephanie were devastated! Ryan vowed to his wife that he would personally find Megan's killer, and he began to pursue the case with the fervor of a mad-man. Stephanie, on the other hand, handled her grief in another way. She became mad at the world! She was mad at the murderer (whoever he was), she was mad at herself and her husband for not spotting the signs of Megan's descent into drugs, and most of all, she was mad at God for allowing her little girl to suffer such a horrible death.
The pain seemed too great to handle, and so Stephanie began to turn to alcohol and drug abuse. So, while Ryan was off for another long night of research into Megan's case, Stephanie began to slip out of the house to pursue the very lifestyle that destroyed her daughter. Ryan never suspected that his wife could possibly fall into the same trap that ruined Megan. In fact, he missed many of the early signs of his wife's demise due to his constant work on Megan's case.
Six months after her daughter's death, Stephanie was at a party where she was introduced to a man by the name of Sammy. Sammy had a hot car and a mouth full of compliments for this beautiful woman (still in her early thirties). Sammy did not care that she was married, but he was very interested when he learned the identity of her husband. Whenever they got together, he never failed to compliment Stephanie profusely and to express his distain for her no good husband Ryan.
Sammy told Stephanie that her husband was a loser who was a known liar by all the "good" police that he knew. He told her that that it was well known that Ryan had several other women that he was seeing on the side and that this was the reason that he had been staying out lately. According to Sammy, Ryan's "other interests" also explained why this policeman did not recognize his own daughter's drug problem before it destroyed her. Sammy even stated that some of his "friends" on the force actually suspected Ryan of Megan's murder, but that Ryan had so many "political ties" that they knew he was untouchable!
After a few weeks of constant lies and easy drugs, Sammy was starting to convince Stephanie that she should move out of her home, and live with him. However, she told Sammy that she could not run away just yet, but would have to hold off until she had a little more time to get over Megan's death.
Stephanie's refusal to immediately obey Sammy did not set well with her new lover. It irritated him that Stephanie would not obey him without question, and Sammy began to wonder if, like Megan, Stephanie did not "have what it takes" to keep his interest. They began to quarrel frequently and Sammy began to cruise by the schools again looking for a new interest.
One Thursday Sammy eyed a sixteen year old girl who seemed to "have what it takes" to stir his curiosity. That very afternoon he took his first ride with her. He was glad to see that she was already a smoker and seemed to have a wild and rebellious attitude. She also said that her parents were divorced, and that she bounced back from one parent to another based upon "who will give me the most at the time." All this added up to another young girl that Sammy could use.
That also meant Stephanie was now expendable, but with her connection to the police and her knowledge of Sammy's life of crime, he knew better than to merely break things off with her. No, a trip to the country and a walk deep into some secluded area of the woods would be necessary with Stephanie as well. "Like daughter, like mother," he thought, but this time he must make sure that her body would never be found.
Stephanie had told him of a special hunting trip that Ryan always took with his brothers coming up the following Tuesday. She had said that Ryan would be away two days. That period when she would not be missed would provide valuable time to get rid of her, and to cover his tracks. So Sammy decided to make sure he and his soon-to-be-forgotten girlfriend were on the best of terms so that she would readily and secretly agree to an "unforgettable getaway".
Meanwhile, Ryan's diligence on Megan's case was starting to pay off. Detectives found skin under Megan's fingernails that indicated a struggle before she died. They were convinced the DNA from that skin belonged to her killer. However, the criminal database could not find a match, which meant that Megan's murderer had not been accused of a major crime. Further, undercover officers had identified several suspects from the area, and many of those leads had by now been eliminated. By now Ryan had begun to suspect a local drug dealer he knew from several miles away, who frequently made trips that would take him near Megan's former school. Sammy was his hottest lead. What he needed to check out his suspect was a sample of Sammy's DNA, for, in spite of all the suspicion that surrounded him over the years, Sammy had never been arrested.
On Friday morning Ryan learned through a connection at a local school of a drug party that was supposed to take place that evening in his area. He decided to alert some local drug enforcement officers of the suspected criminal activity, and was told that they were planning a 10:00 PM raid. Then on a hunch, he decided to follow Sammy that evening, to see if he might end up at the event.
Ryan borrowed a buddy's truck, found Sammy's house, and waited. Shortly after dark Sammy immerged from his house carrying a gym bag. He got into his Corvette convertible, put the top down, and began to drive. Ryan followed at a safe distance and was glad to see that Sammy was headed in the direction he suspected. However, instead of turning on the road that went toward the party, Sammy headed out of town.
"Now he's leading me on a wild goose chase!" Ryan thought. "I wonder if he's spotted me." It soon became apparent, however, that Sammy did not suspect any thing, for Sammy drove right up to Ryan's house! Ryan pulled the truck off behind a hedgerow in a nearby field and quietly got out of the truck. As he crept to the tree line on the edge of his property, he heard Sammy beep the horn twice. Sammy sat there for a moment, and then beeped impatiently again. At that instant, Ryan watched in horror as Stephanie came out and got in with Sammy! They kissed, and Sammy sped off. With his date secured, he headed in the direction of the party.
Ryan was stunned. What should he do? Was it possible that his wife had fallen in love with his daughter's murderer? He had to know - but how? Should he try to stop the raid to protect Stephanie? Did he even know for certain that Stephanie and Sammy would end up at the party? Maybe if he waited a week, Sammy would go to a party without Stephanie with him, and all the damage and fallout of his wife's probable arrest could be avoided! Besides, Ryan could only imagine what a defense attorney would do with the information that his client was having an affair with the wife of the officer who busted him! Maybe he should wait.
Yet, Ryan thought about the others at the party. What about the long-term damage to the teens who would be there? What about the danger Stephanie was in by hanging with this evil man? Could she not overdose even tonight if left unchecked? No. Ryan would make no attempt to stop the raid. Devastated, he walked back to the truck, slid behind the wheel, and began to weep.
The raid was successful, Sammy was arrested, and within hours his DNA sample was being sent away for testing. The teens below age eighteen were given little more than a slap on the wrist, but Stephanie, due to her age and association with Sammy, was arrested on the charges of corrupting of minors and of unlawful possession of a controlled substance.
Ryan got a personal call from one of the officers at the scene informing him of what he already suspected: his wife was arrested with Sammy. Part of him wanted to let her sit in prison until she rotted, but part of him also wanted to run to her, put his arms around her, and turn her heart back to reality.
The real life situation followed neither thought pattern. Ryan went down to the station to face a woman who looked like a mere shell of herself. She was loud and obnoxious, and she looked like a walking skeleton. Ryan wondered how he could have ever missed the now obvious signs of his wife's slide into the horrid pit of drugs.
As he approached the cell, Stephanie sneered, "I bet you think I'm a real fool! Well, you're the fool, Ryan! You're so stupid, you not only failed to recognize your daughter's drug habit, but you totally missed mine as well! If you weren't so interested in chasing your career and who knows how many other women, you might have had time to meet the needs of your wife and your daughter! So, though you and your crooked friends down here might hate me for what I have done, you're the real reason why your daughter is dead and why your wife has moved on in her life! It feels good to finally find someone who truly loves me and gives me what I want!"
Ryan was speechless for a moment. "I am sorry that I did not recognize Megan's drug problem, Stephanie! And I cannot believe that I did not see the signs in your life as well, but I promised you that I would catch Megan's killer!"
"Yeah, some cop you are!" Stephanie mocked. "You cannot even help the ones in your own house! What chance do you have to catch a real criminal?" You're stupid, Ryan! I cannot believe I ever married you! You make me sick!"
Ryan started to walk away at that point. Stephanie suddenly called out, "Wait! Aren't you going to help me get out of here?"
"No." Ryan said flatly. "The police are running some important checks on you and Sammy. I couldn't get you out of here right now if I wanted to."
"What have we done? - I know what you're up to! You're going to use your goons to try to frame Sammy on some cooked up charge to get revenge on him for stealing me from you! You've wrecked your own life, and now you want to wreck mine!"
Ryan could feel his blood beginning to boil. It took all of his training on self-control to walk away without saying something foolish at that point, but he succeeded. "Tomorrow, if I learn what I suspect is the truth about Sammy, she will see things in a totally different light," he told himself. Yet even as he said those words, in his heart he wondered if Stephanie was now willing or even capable of seeing the truth though it might be clearly and logically placed before her.
1) How does Ryan picture Christ?
2) How does Ryan fall short of that picture?
3) Who would Sammy picture?
4) How does Stephanie illustrate the heart of a person battling bitterness against God?
How So, what do you think will happen? Read on and feel free to make comments on what you think!
The next morning at 7:00 AM Ryan was awakened by a call from one of his friends at the lab. Just as Ryan had suspected, Sammy's DNA was a perfect match to skin samples recovered at the scene of Megan's murder. By mid-morning a subpoena had been obtained to search Sammy's apartment, and by late afternoon several articles that belonged to Megan were found there. Foolishly, he had stored away love letters personally authored by Megan and even confessions that she had written, pledging to tell her father about what she had done and threatening to expose Sammy as well. It was obvious from Megan's letters that she did not "have what it takes" to live long in the world of drugs, and that Sammy had ample motivation to get rid of her.
When Ryan returned the next day to visit Stephanie, he was met with a barrage of profanities. He tried to patiently lay out how he arrived at suspecting Sammy, how he had innocently followed Sammy the night of the party without any suspicion of his involvement with his wife, how he thought about, but chose not to stop the raid, and finally, the DNA and physical evidence that had been found.
Stephanie looked bored throughout Ryan's explanation, interrupted him frequently to tell him how stupid he was, and totally dismissed the evidence he laid out for her. Ryan was unable to show her any of Megan's letters or belongings, since they were now state's evidence, but he did tell her that all would come out in the trial. Stephanie shot back that she would not bother to attend, but Ryan reminded her that she was now part of the case, and would have no choice.
Before Sammy's jury trial, Stephanie was convicted on lesser charges due to a plea bargain. Due to the fact that she had no prior record, she was given a fine, probation, and several months of community service in conjunction with the time she served while waiting for her trial. She got out, moved into a small apartment, and started working at a grocery store. After work she would go to a local soup kitchen to fulfill her community service requirement. All of this kept her extremely busy, and Ryan hoped that she would stay out of trouble until she could begin to think clearly again.
As Ryan had suspected, Stephanie was subpoenaed to appear at Sammy's trial, and as he hoped, Stephanie had to sit through several days of testimony before she was asked to testify. During that time Megan's belongings that had been recovered from Ryan's house were revealed, and letters written with Megan's own hand were read and placed into evidence. Ryan sat where he could see his wife out of the corner of his eye, but to his great disappointment, Stephanie looked bored throughout the presentation of the overwhelming evidence of Ryan's guilt!
Ryan did not dare approach Stephanie during the trial in fear that a scene between the two of them might jeopardize the case, but on the third day he walked inadvertently past her in the hall. Stephanie, seeing him coming, whirled and yelled out, "Some case you have cooked up against the only man who has ever truly loved me! I didn't know you had access to so many of Megan's things!" Ryan walked on without comment, but with heart broken.
Stephanie's testimony was a fiasco. She railed on the judge, the police, and especially on Ryan. The judge repeatedly warned her to only answer the question at hand, and to stop making ridiculous comments, but Stephanie would not listen. Therefore, the judge dismissed her from the courtroom, held her in contempt of court, and slapped her with another fine and three days in jail.
Upon her release, Stephanie did not return to her job at the grocery, but began to plot to free her lover. The trial was to conclude the day after her release, and so the afternoon she was freed, Stephanie returned to Ryan's house, stole several of his guns that were not in a place where they would be missed, and waited for her opening.
She decided to try to free Sammy when he was being escorted from the police car that brought him to the courthouse. In earlier and happier days, Ryan had taught her how to use a firearm. Stephanie had learned well. Sammy was escorted by two officers as he stepped from the van. They hardly had time to move before their assailant shot and critically wounded them both. Stephanie sped up while both officers lay bleeding and screeched to a halt in front of her lover. She flung open the door and Sammy gladly dove in the front seat, hands and feet still shackled. They drove a few feet away, but had to pull over to get Sammy completely into the car and to shut the front door.
In the mean time, a reporter who was filming Sammy's entrance into the courthouse rushed into the building to alert someone of what had just happened. He was met by a security guard who had heard shots. Seeing his fallen comrades and Sammy now just completing his struggle to get into the car, he pulled his weapon and shot out both back tires. Stephanie, in her rage, picked up her weapon, and fired twice at the guard. Both shots missed, and when the security guard returned fire, his aim was true. Stephanie convulsed backward, and - bleeding profusely - slumped on top of the man she had tried to free. Within a few moments her struggling was over and she was gone.
Sammy, feeling the warm lifeblood of Stephanie running down on his clothes began to curse violently. "Get this woman off me!" he whined. "I want you to know that it's not my fault that she did this! I only jumped into the car because I was afraid she would shoot me too!"
Ryan got to the scene as soon as he could. He wept as he saw Stephanie's hardened and pain stricken face. Driving home, he walked through his empty house, dreaming of happier days. He remembered the beautiful young woman with whom he had fallen in love and for whom he had gladly sacrificed his career in New York. He remembered the joy on her lovely face the day they had moved into that very home. He recalled her joy at the birth of their child, and the happiness they had shared during holidays and special times together. What had gone wrong? How had he lost such a perfect and loving relationship? How could such a loving and caring woman turn into such a heartless and violent monster? Was it merely the drugs? Or was there something deeper, more horrible than they that had destroyed the love of his life?
As Ryan thought about it, the drugs had a part in his wife's demise, but there WAS a more evil and destructive force that ruined her. The drugs affected Stephanie's body and certainly clouded her mind, but SOMETHING had corrupted her heart. What was it? He didn't know, but as he curled up on his couch to weep he determined that if he ever did find out who or what the horrendous monster was that killed the love of his life, he would fight with all his might to kill it.
1) Why did Stephanie turn to drugs?
2) What were the opportunities that God gave to Stephanie to see that she was headed in the
3) Who or what is/are the real monster[s] that destroyed Stephanie?
Ending #2 - All information is the same until the break. It might be helpful to read a paragraph or two in front of this break to remember the events to that critical point.
Upon returning home, Ryan could hardly think of anything else but Megan, Stephanie, and the case against Sammy. However, he knew that practical matters still needed attention around the home. Thus, over dinner Ryan decided to read his mail. Several bills were coming due, that had remained unopened for several days. So, while the TV dinner was still cooking in the oven, Ryan started sorting.
Somewhere between the electric and the telephone bills, Ryan made a discovery that literally changed his life. There he found a handwritten letter from one of Megan's former classmates.
Dear Mr. & Mrs. Jenkins,
I'm sorry that I have not written sooner! My name is Jill Matthews. I am a friend of your daughter Megan, and I have something that I feel I need to tell you. Although I know that you are certainly grieving over your daughter's death, I want you to know that I am certain that she is in Heaven! Megan was saved! Let me explain.
Megan and I were good friends for at least the last six months before she died. In fact, you may remember that she stayed over at my house the night before she was murdered. At that point, she confessed to me that she was involved with this older guy (she never mentioned his name), and that she wanted to get out of the relationship.
She felt guilty for all the bad things that she had done with him, and she also wondered if she could ever get past the shame and pain that she had brought upon herself, and that she knew would be brought upon you, if you ever found out what she had done. She said that she could not live with herself anymore, but that she was afraid to confess! She was worried about what her boyfriend would do if she confessed, and she was worried about the hurt she would bring to you both if she told you what she had done.
I told her that she felt guilt for another reason she had not even thought of yet. She had sinned against God! I told her that all sin is ultimately against God, and that she needed to start by confessing to Him what she had done. She agreed with me, but she wondered if God could ever forgive her.
It was then that I shared with her how that Jesus Christ came to earth to save people just like her! I showed her Romans 5:8: "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
I also shared with her Luke 7:36-50 that talks about the prostitute that came to Jesus asking for forgiveness. That woman truly was sorry for what she had done, and wept over Jesus' feet, anointing them with oil and wiping them with her hair. Then Jesus said to her, "Your faith has saved you. Go in peace." I told her that though she could not anoint Jesus' feet with oil or wipe them with her hair, she could cry out to God, repent of her sins, and believe that Jesus could forgive her.
That seemed to help her a lot! Megan got down on her knees with me and asked Jesus Christ to forgive and save her from her sin. She asked God to help her to never go back to the wicked sins that she had committed, and to give her the courage to tell her boyfriend that they were through and to tell you both what she had done and how she had asked God to forgive her.
She was so happy! We cried and prayed and even made a pact of some things that we would and would not do. I have sent you our pact because I thought it might be an encouragement to you to see that Megan was really serious about coming to Christ and changing her ways!
I know God has forgiven her! I know I will see her again in Heaven, for I too have repented of my sins and placed my complete trust for salvation in Jesus' sacrifice on the cross for me. Do you have that same assurance, Mr. & Mrs. Jenkins? I pray so! If you have any questions about Megan or about how to know for certain that you will see her again in Heaven, please feel free to call or write me!
Sorry again for not writing sooner! I had planned on contacting you earlier, but after I talked to the investigator who came to school, he said that I should not talk about what I knew, for the investigation was continuing. However, since it has been several months, I asked my dad if I could write you. He thought it might be an encouragement for you to hear about Megan's faith in Christ, and so I have written. May God bless you! I really miss Megan too!