OGDEN — She still shakes her head, trembles and tears up over what happened more than 29 years ago.
Now, a family member of an 11-year-old Ogden girl killed in 1983 says new charges against an Idaho inmate have left her questioning everything she thought she knew about what happened all those years ago.
Denise Lemberger Foran said she and other family members always believed her uncle Frank — Rebecca Lemberger’s adoptive father — was responsible for the girl's rape and murder in early March 1983.
Frank Lemberger died not long after the crime. But the accusation divided the family — and many family members stopped talking to each other long ago.
“Even on his last dying words my father said, 'Please just admit what you did,'” Foran recalled Tuesday. “And he said, 'I didn’t do it.'”
Now, 45-year-old Gregory L. Seamons — who was 15 at the time — faces extradition from Idaho after he was charged Friday with murder and rape in the child's death.
“I sincerely feel really terrible, really terrible about thinking that was (Frank Lemberger),” Foran said. “I’m glad it wasn’t.”
Still, Foran suggested the damage to her family had long since been done. Believing her uncle was a murderer is something she said she has struggled with her entire adult life.
“I can’t explain it to somebody when you’ve lost trust because you think somebody in your family has killed somebody and you might be next,” Foran said. “You grow up believing that you’re not a very good person because of your family choices.”
Foran and her family lived with Frank Lemberger roughly two years before the killing, and she visited her cousin “Becky” regularly. She said her uncle’s anger and drinking problems ultimately fueled the family’s suspicions that he had done something unthinkable against Rebecca.
Rebecca disappeared on her way to Edison Elementary School on March 2, 1983. Her body was found wrapped in a tarp in a shed the next day.
Lemberger’s father identified Rebecca’s remains, Foran said.
“You don’t know how good it makes me feel to know that there’s not a killer in my family,” she said. “It’s like everything you thought was the way it was, isn’t. ... Every lie you believed, every false accusation wasn’t really true.”
Foran said she’s truly sorry for ever suspecting her uncle and she hopes he is able to somehow understand that now.
It may be months at the earliest before Seamons appears in a Utah courtroom. He is serving out a sentence in Idaho for kidnapping.
Foran said she is contemplating traveling to the Idaho Correctional Institution to explain to Seamons the toll that the killing has taken on her family.
Copyright 2016, Deseret News Publishing Company