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Mother pens book with daughter's, grandson's killer

8:17 AM, Dec 17, 2012   |    comments
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Her life was never the same after March 1998. By then, all three of the 75-year-old's children had died from AIDS, SIDS and murder.

Scovens murdered Patricia Reed, 40, and her 6-year-old son, Chris, who was hiding in a tiny Sarasota apartment closet while he heard the screams of his mother being strangled to death. Reed met Scovens in drug treatment and they later dated after leaving the facility.

Furey sought healing in January 2005 from the rage eating away at her heart and health. She didn't know it, but Scovens was hurting, too. They slowly built a bond cemented in a need to understand each other and heal.

They exchanged hundreds of letters and phone conversations while Scovens was in prison. And now, after two years of tedious work, they've authored a book, "Wildflowers in the Median," that's a sampling of letters written by Scovens to Furey, her poems and vignettes.

On Saturday, some of Furey's friends and associates, and a few strangers, gathered at a friend's home. Louise Ritchie and Thomas Wilson joined Furey in reading the book's powerful passages.

Some secured a spot on the glossy heart-pine floor. Others grabbed a sofa seat or chair. There were moments when laughter managed to fill the intimate space. For the most part, though, the group hung on every word. One woman quickly wiped blushed cheeks when her tears slid south.

"Sharing the story is not all that uncomfortable anymore," Furey said.

Yet, writing the book was a challenge. In this process, she's been reminded for two years through reading and re-reading the hurt no mother should endure.

Written by TaMaryn Waters Democrat staff writer

"That was difficult," Furey confessed, in a hushed voice.

Assembling the book also was work. Scovens, who is serving his sentence at the Apalachee Correctional Institution East in Sneads, was only allowed to send and receive 15 pages at a time, Furey said. She handled the typing. Scovens, who previously taught English and social studies in Baltimore, Md., did meticulous line editing.

Furey, a community activist and self-trained expert on restorative justice, believes her daughter would be proud of the book and Scoven's current attempt to help other inmates achieve healing.

"I believe then and I believe now she would not have wanted him executed," Furey said. "I believe she would want him to be able to do something positive."

In a Sept. 4, 2011, exclusive with the Tallahassee Democrat, Scovens was teary-eyed when recounting Reed, a woman who let him into her one-bedroom apartment in a run-down neighborhood.

"I don't know the depth of the sorrow I've caused; I can only imagine it. I was a very, very sick young man," Scovens wrote in a letter to Furey. "So sick. At the time, I was lost to drugs, guilt, rage and pain and ... I punished Pat for daring to love me. That's how I've seen things in retrospect. She did not deserve what I did to her, and Chris certainly didn't. Pat was truly one of the sweetest, most generous, honest and loving people I've known. And Chris was unblemished and ... I realize saying sorry doesn't cut it."

After the reading, the gathering of friends and supporters digested what they heard. The room was still. Pat Tuthill sat with her legs crossed on the floor and called Furey "our light."

Tuthill knew her pain. Her daughter Peyton Tuthill, 23, was murdered in 1999, a year after Furey lost Reed. The wounded mothers connected 12 years ago.

"We have shared this journey," Tuthill said.

She hasn't read the book yet. But she was most moved by Furey's confession about how writing helped her make it through.

"You could feel it. There was such incredible power in her words," Tuthill said.

Thomas Wilson, reading Scovens' words, said he hated the felon, though he never met him. Grief swept over him and his family in 1989 when a cousin was murdered by her boyfriend, who was recently denied parole.

"There is still so much pain in my family over that incident that this is a direct contrast to what Agnes offers - hope, forgiveness, healing and finding the humanity that's in another person, even if they have done heinous crimes," Wilson said.

Scovens managed to change his mind.

His words - sharp, articulate and masterfully woven to paint the troubled picture of his childhood and destructive, cocaine-filled haze - somehow seeped into Wilson's hardened heart. He no longer saw just a murderer. He saw a man. Another human who didn't make excuses for his crime.

"Even with the childhood abuse that he didn't choose, he still says yes it was a contributing factor but he never blamed what he did on what he went through. He said there is no excuse," Wilson said.

The group posed questions, offered comments and praise to Furey for her journey through unpopular waters.

They couldn't help mention the horrifying shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Furey said she hoped the young survivors can overcome the tragedy.

"Often we forget the children," Furey told the group.

As long as she lives, Furey won't forget hers. Not ever. Any random bouquet of flowers sprouting from a road's median will always remind her of the daughter and grandson she lost.

Written by TaMaryn Waters Democrat staff writer

(Copyright © 2012 www.tallahassee.com. All rights reserved.)

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