Donald Beaty
Donald Beaty is scheduled to die May 25 in the 1984 murder of Christy Ann Fornoff.

When convicted killer Donald Beaty was executed this week, there was much talk about "justice" and "closure" for the family of his victim.

Those terms make Donna Rossetti-Bailey chuckle. Emotions and fears that returned to the surface with the execution of one of her sister's killers in 1999 helped lead to a nervous breakdown for her.

Closure? Really?

"That's a word that sounds nice, but that doesn't really happen," said Rossetti-Bailey, whose sister, Suzanne, was brutally raped and murdered in Phoenix in 1981. "After the breakdown, I came out the other side stronger than ever, but there was no closure.

"Sadness. Just sadness, more sadness."

Rossetti's brother, Peter, said: "There's a certain level of satisfaction in knowing that, at least for that one particular individual, he will never do that again, and someone else will not experience that same kind of loss. Is there a sense of overwhelming relief? No, or at least I didn't have it."

Family members - at least, the few who will speak publicly - typically find that an execution brings years of buried pain back into the open, said Jan Upchurch, administrator of the Office of Victims Services of the Arizona Department of Corrections.

And the obvious: The killer's death will not bring their loved one back, making such terms as justice and closure a lot more valuable to prosecutors, politicians and detached observers than those who experienced the horror.

"It's not closure. It's the end of a chapter," Upchurch said. "Losing a family member or friend in a gruesome manner can be traumatic for a lifetime, and some people heal more than others."

In 1991, Arizona voters approved a Victims' Bill of Rights that included such services as counseling. The Office of Victims Service was created five years ago, with one of its major roles serving as advocates for families of violent crime victims from commission to sentencing to execution - and sometimes beyond.

Two OVS representatives were at the side of the family of Christy Ann Fornoff, a Tempe girl raped and killed by Beaty as she collected money for her newspaper route in 1984. Beaty was executed on Wednesday in Florence.

"Both of the ladies were absolutely wonderful," said Christy's mother, Carol Fornoff. "They were with us all day. Just being there. No words of wisdom. The big thing is that they were just there with us to comfort us."

Families usually do not comment to reporters at an execution. Those that do likely have already been very open about the death of their loved one.

The Fornoffs publicly expressed forgiveness for Beaty, opened their eight-bedroom cabin in Pine to parents of other slain children for support retreats and were active in the push to approve the Victims Bill of Rights.

Rossetti-Bailey's vehicle has been a website, suziscircle.com, that provides women with self-defense resources.

"We tried to make chicken salad out of it, as they say, and try to help other women and give them insight on how they can stay safe," Rossetti-Bailey said.

On Jan. 29, 1981, Suzanne Rossetti - who had recently moved to the Valley from Massachusetts - locked herself out of her car in front of a convenience store. Jess James Gillies and Mike Logan helped her get in the vehicle, and to show her appreciation, Rossetti bought them beer and offered a ride to a stable where Gillies worked.

En route, Rossetti was grabbed by the men, raped and taken to the Superstition Mountains, where she was pushed off a cliff and tumbled 40 feet down the hillside. She was then beaten on the head with rocks and left to die.

Logan pled guilty to first-degree murder and received a life sentence. Gillies was executed on Jan. 13, 1999.

"There were times then where I would have loved to be alone with the individual to, I don't know, settle the score, I guess," Peter Rossetti said.

The killing was detailed in a book, "Evil Intentions: The Story of How an Act of Kindness Led to Senseless Murder." Rossetti-Bailey said that she has never been able to pick it up.

The Rossetti family did not witness the execution. Her siblings live near Boston.

Before Beaty was executed, he apologized to the Fornoff family members in attendance.

"It meant a lot for him to do that," Carol Fornoff said. "The last few days have been tiring, emotional, exhausting. We're drained. But we're relieved and at peace."

Upchurch said that her office's services are typically still needed after an execution.

"We'll continue to follow up with the family, depending on their needs," Upchurch said. "The execution is over, but their loved one is still gone. It can be a double-edged sword, so to speak."

(4) comments

NothingButTheTruth

I've never had a loved one raped and butchered, but I cannot see how anything could possible bring closure to anyone so emotionally involved as the young girls family and close friends. Nothing can heal a wound so deep except possible a lot of time. For me, someone who was horrified by the murder and glad that he's finally dead, I can find closure. All of us outsiders are glad it's finally over, but do you really think it will ever be over for Christy's parents? I'm glad they were able to forgive Beaty. It helps to put the pain away for a while. I hope the courts here will do as they said and start scheduling more executions. These things need to be done, or just commute their sentences to life without parole. Either way these things need to happen faster than decades. Justice delayed is justice denied.

Leon Ceniceros

The only 2 people in the Valley who didn't find "closure" with this child rapist/murderer was finally after more than 20years on Death Row...............was the convict, David Beaty............and .........................THIS REPORTER

AZ Native

I clearly remember the horror of Christy's death and the fear it struck in the East Valley, at that time. I, for one, am glad this most horrid of people has been put away but it is so unfair that he milked the system all these years. There needs to be a set and firm amount of time to carry out the death sentences of monsters. And, this many years is far too long. How Christy's family can begin to "forgive" this murderer I will never understand, but, I guess they have to do what they have to do. Christy has been vindicated and bozo has been sent directly to hell where he belongs.

Centurion

The death of this monster may not bring anyone closure, but it does insure that he will never harm anyone again. To those who say that life in prison would accomplish the same thing, well...obviously you have never spent time in prison. These thugs consider to victimise and prey on weaker inmates and on staff members even after they're incarcerated Death is the only sure deterant.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.