When Air Force veteran Tricia Todd vanished on April 26, her friends and family tried to be optimistic that the 30-year-old mom would come home safely.
That optimism turned to horror a month later when Todd’s ex-husband, Air Force Staff Sgt. Steven Williams, was arrested and charged with her murder last month.
Williams agreed to plead no contest to second-degree murder charges. According to Sheriff William Snyder, Williams admitted to being involved in Todd’s death and led investigators to her remains. As part of the plea deal, he will serve 35 years in prison.
The couple had a two-year-old daughter, Faith, who is now living with relatives.
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The murder and confession have left Todd’s family to grapple with feelings of sorrow and anger. To cope with their loss, her family has made a surprising decision.
“The family has chosen to forgive him,” says family friend Michelle Rocker, who is acting as the family’s spokesperson. “That doesn’t mean that they do not want to see justice served, but they have forgiven him. Their hope is that he will come to the faith and knowledge of Jesus Christ and seek forgiveness from God for what he has done. That is what Tricia wanted for him, and that’s what the family wants for him.”
“It really does become a story about forgiveness,” continues Rocker. “If you allow bitterness and rage and anger grow, it eats you alive. It’s really important to understand that forgiveness doesn’t mean that what he did is okay, but it’s best for everyone’s sake that they go this route.”
For the Sake of Faith
Why would Tricia Todd’s family forgive a man who admits to killing her and using a chainsaw to hide her remains?
According to Rocker, it comes down to two kinds of Faith – a play on words that indicates both the family’s Christian beliefs and the name of the couple’s daughter.
“Faith has lost both parents,” says Rocker. “And it’s the family’s job to show her what her mother was like. Tricia was a kind woman who would have forgiven him.”
As the family prepares for the memorial service, they are both touched and humbled by the generosity of complete strangers who have donated air miles and offered to bring meals for the family. “People have been absolutely amazing,” says Rocker. “It restores everyone’s faith in humanity.”
In the years ahead, Faith is going to have questions about the tragic fate of her parents. Todd’s family vows to help raise her the way that her mother would have wanted. To help with expenses, the family has created a CrowdRise page.
And what’s the lesson that the family wants people to know?
“If you’re in a domestic violence situation, it’s important to get help and tell others,” Rocker says. “That’s important for people to know.”