In an exclusive interview with Anderson Cooper, the wife and daughters of the slain Colorado prisons chief, Tom Clements, talk about the crushing loss, their love for him, and why they want to forgive his murderer.
Lisa Clements was home when her husband answered the door for his killer on March 19. She says the sound of the doorbell and what came after is an unmentionable darkness.
She doesn't want him remembered for the way he died, rather for the impact he made on people's lives. "There's a scripture that's talking about when darkness overtakes the Godly, light comes bursting through and I think that that scripture captures exactly what I would like people to know about Tom."
His family tells Anderson that Tom's career in corrections was successful because he was passionate about believing people could be redeemed.
The 28-year-old man suspected of the crime is a former inmate who was erroneously paroled four years early because of a clerical mistake.
Weeks after his release in January, he disabled his ankle monitor, but it took authorities days to realize what he had done. By the time they filed to revoke his parole, police believe he killed Tom Clements. He's also linked to the murder of another man, Nathan Leon.
Lisa and her daughters, Rachel and Sara, are praying for the ability to forgive his killer so their lives are not defined by the devastating tragedy. "I've heard Tom, in our years together, so many times talk about victims with whom he's spoken who describe their entire lives falling apart, their marriages falling apart, their health falling apart because of the rage and lack of forgiveness toward the person who harmed their loved one or took the life of their loved one," she says. "And conversely, victims with whom he spoke who simply said 'I have to let go so I can live my life.' And that's what I chose."
In the same vein, Lisa doesn't want to feel angry about the error that freed the suspect. "I could become enraged ... but it won't bring Tom back."
She says forgiveness is a journey that will take time to grow into. Her focus is on caring for her children and remembering Tom for the life they shared together.
This was a powerful interview with Mrs. Clements. Her message is a beautifully articulated reminder of God's grace and how we should mirror it in our lives during the most difficult of times.
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