She finally settled on poetry.
Talking no longer helped. Sherron King's pain outlasted the unspoken statute of limitations friends put on grief. When she sensed that friends found her ceaseless anguish hard to take, she shared less of it.Sherron had less control over the rage. It spilled over her life, corroding her job. Her company nearly fired her in the months following Charla's death. Companies worry about profits and smooth operations. They are ill-equipped to deal with a mother crazed with anger and pain over the rape and murder of her 11-year-old daughter.
Hell darkened when Sherron's father died of heart failure six months after Charla's murder. "I think my daughter's death led to his," Sherron said. "I wondered, `Am I ever going to live through this grief?' "
She lived. But she didn't want to. When Sherron came home from work June 23, 1989, and found Charla's naked body sprawled across her bed, the child's panties stuffed in her mouth and a telephone cord wrapped tightly around her neck, Sherron wanted to die, too.
John Albert Taylor raped, sodomized and strangled Charla the day before the girl's 12th birthday. An Ogden judge convicted the Florida native of first-degree murder in Charla's death.
But Taylor wants to live. He has appealed his sentence to the Utah Supreme Court.
For the first time in nearly two years, Sherron wants to live, too. For a long time "I wanted to go with Charla," Sherron said.
The 11-year-old girl with the promise of beauty in her fine skin and blond hair was the heart of Sherron's life. Sherron rushed home to Charla at the end of each day, her mind filled with things she and Charla needed to accomplish in the brief evenings working mothers cram with domestic chores.
After Taylor cut the heart from Sherron's life, she wandered through the months, rushing nowhere, her mind filled only with pain.
Then poetry and God stepped in. Discovering the bond between poets and pain, Sherron splashed her grief across the page, meting it out in one poem after another until her reservoir of agony diminished.
And she reached out to God. "I've felt his presence ever since Charla died. I can't believe the support he's given me, even though I wasn't grateful at the time."
She is now. That's the shock of this wounded woman: her gratitude. Gratitude for the volunteers with Weber County's victim assistance program for allowing Sherron to make their office her home in the year following Charla's murder. Gratitude for the police and attorneys who never forgot that Charla was a person, not a case. Gratitude for the medical technician who appeased a hysterical mother by struggling to breathe life into Charla long after it was clear she was gone.
Gratitude for the answer to her relentless "Why?"
She got that answer last week during an HBO special on abused children. The story of a sexually abused child, Beth, who herself became an abuser unlocked the mystery of Taylor.
"I couldn't believe he didn't feel anything," Sherron said of the man who murdered her daughter. "That was the hardest part. He treated it as a joke. He never saw what a beautiful girl she was," she said, tears spilling down her face.
Now she knows why. Taylor was abused as a small child, and that abuse may have led to the rape of his 12-year-old sister when he was a teenager and repeated sexual assaults on neighbor girls.
That abuse condemned Taylor to a life as an abuser, Sherron now believes. And, incredibly, she wants to reach out to abusers.
When Sherron realized she would live, she decided the only way to survive the years ahead was to make them starkly different from the years behind. So she joined a Toastmasters club to overcome her fear of public speaking. She became involved in the victims' rights movement. She has made firm plans to go to college. And she now knows she wants to be involved in child-abuse issues.
"I want to work with abusers rather than abused children," she said. "I can't be around little children too much right now," she explained, crying again. "I miss my little girl so much. I want her back."