Sentenced To Death, Destined For Life – Sample Chapter
A Path Of Twists & Turns
Love Breaks Through
This story begins on a rainy day in July of 1991, on the Northwest side of San Antonio, Texas. The ‘Sentence Of Death’ had been issued and there was an eerie feeling of the certainty of its judgment in the atmosphere. A young woman, in her early thirties, is seen standing on the front porch of a home for the terminally ill. She is smoking a cigarette and listening to her headphones. Normally, she would be sitting out in the front yard with her smoke; however, today the rain has forced her to stay on the porch. Her gaunt, anorexic figure displays her state of mind. She was depressed all of the time. Her constant cry is, “God! Will you please take me home? Just take me home!” She cried out over and over in her mind as she listened to a song by Metallica called “Sanitarium,” trying desperately to drown out all of the voices inside of her head.
Janiece Elaine Turner had been through years of extreme pain and misery. She was tired, extremely exhausted, and she just wanted it to be all over, finished. The voices inside of her head would not leave her alone. Unbeknownst to her, she was getting her wish. Soon it would be all over, but it would not be the way she had expected.
After almost eight years of pain, surgeries, mental institutions, treatments, drugs, and medications, the doctors finally came to a new conclusion, aided by a new technology called the MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging). They told her family that the myelin sheathing around the nerves in her brain were dying and this was causing her brain cells to die. At the time, they called it Demyelinating Syndrome. They told her family there was no hope for her and asked them if there was a place that she could stay comfortably until she died, because the mental hospitals could not help her anymore and also, they were so expensive. Taking into account the doctor’s advice, they decided to place her into her oldest sister’s caregiving home for the terminally ill. The family was told not to tell her she was dying, for fear that this time she would be successful in taking her life, after all the numerous attempts she had made in the past.
There was something very special about this dreary, rainy day, however. This day was different. It was not like all the other days before. This day was special, because it was the fulfillment of a promise from a long time ago. This was the day that death would be sentenced and life would begin to blossom.
As she continued to listen to the music and continued to smoke her cigarette, the front door opened and her sister walked out. Janiece pulled the headphones down to her neck so that she could hear. Her sister only spoke a few words this time out of frustration and then went back inside. It was the same words she had heard from others over the years. “Do you want to stay sick forever?”
Aware, for the first time in many years, she suddenly exclaimed, “No! No! I don�t want to be sick forever!” As she was turning around to face her sister, she reached down to put the cigarette out, but by this time, her sister had already gone back inside.
Janiece opened the door and looked for her sister. She walked up to her. “No!” she exclaimed. “I DON’T want to be sick forever! Now what…”
31 YEARS EARLIER…
Janiece was born into a middle class family. Her early years spanned the entire 1960’s decade. Her dad, Bob Turner was a lithographer, printer. Her mother, Virginia, or Gin as she liked to be called, was a homemaker while the children were young. They had three girls and a boy, Starr, Deborah, Janiece and Bobby. Starr, the eldest, is five years older than Janiece. Deborah is twenty months older than Janiece and Bobby is nine years younger than she.
When Janiece was around the age of nine in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Gin launched out in her own Avon business. Later, after they returned to San Antonio, she went to business college and entered the corporate world as an administrator for a local CPA company. Sometimes, Bob worked extra jobs, including weekends, to provide for his family during the tight times financially, to buy property, to take care of emergency financial needs, and to take vacations. The family went on many vacation outings together and explored some of the old ghost towns of Colorado and some of the canyons in Texas, Arizona and Utah. They bought property in different places for investment and fun. The properties also allowed the family to camp out together and have a place to just get away and rest. While the family had a lot of fun together over the years, as the children grew into adulthood, there were some instances that came in to challenge this love.
Bob is an explorer at heart and loved to find places for the family to see. While they were living in Colorado Springs, Colorado, his fellow workers would ask him every week, “Where did you go this time, Bob?” They would spend most weekends checking out the various ghost towns nearby, single lane mountain trails that took four–wheel drive and other places of interest. His fellow workers were hungry to hear about his adventures because they were natives who had not even ventured out to the places around them. This is where Janiece gets some of her pioneering and exploration spirit, we think.
Janiece was born at the Nix hospital in San Antonio, Texas on April 11, 1960. This was the year John F. Kennedy was elected as the 35th president of the United States of America, with the first presidential debates being held on TV. It was the beginning of the famous, “Swinging Sixties.” The birth control pill was released to the public this year and the first working laser was demonstrated.
During the decade of the Sixties: John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard M. Nixon became U.S. presidents. The Cuban missile crisis developed which involved the U.S. and Russia. The space race started and the U.S. sent men to the moon. The Vietnam war spanned the decade, while Martin Luther King Jr’s. “I Have A Dream” speech was given. John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy were assassinated. The Peace Corps. was established. Category 5 Hurricane Camille, with 190 mph winds hit the Gulf Coast. Touch–tone phones were introduced. The first computer programming language BASIC was created. The first ATM (Automated Teller Machine) was opened in Barclays Bank, London. Feminism in the United States and around the world gained momentum in the early 1960s. In 1968, “Women’s Liberation” became a household term. The Manson Murders took place in 1969. The Woodstock Festival, in upstate New York, took place in 1969. Psychedelic drugs, especially LSD, were widely used medicinally, spiritually and recreationally throughout the late 1960s. There was a music explosion from Elvis, The Beatles, The Four Seasons, The Supremes, Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Simon & Garfunkle, The Beach Boys, Jefferson Airplane, Pink Floyd, Bee Gees, Jimi Hindrix, The Who and many more. The highest grossing film of the decade was “The Sound Of Music.” The hippie movement began. The bikini and the mini–skirt were introduced into the fashion industry. Billy Graham and C. S. Lewis were among the spiritual leaders. Marlon Brando, Charlton Heston and Julie Andrews were in full swing in the movies.
The cultural expectations of the 60’s, were tumultuous. With the peace movement, the women’s liberation movement, and the anti–God movement with the Bible and prayer being removed from public schools in 1962, the moral foundations of conservative parenting and schooling were breaking up and parents were being caught in a cataclysmic storm of epic proportions.
Janiece’s parents were caught in this period of changes. They were determined to raise their children with moral values and proper manners. Bob had been forced to go to church and was determined to have his children grow up with the choice to choose when they were old enough to decide on their own. They believed in corporal punishment as did the public schools during this time period. They were very protective of their children and used every means available to ensure their children were safe, loved, and had the best advantage to enter adulthood.
Janiece developed chronic bronchial asthma when she was eight weeks old. Her parents had to take her to the doctor on a regular basis in the beginning, because she was having such vicious attacks that she could hardly breathe. The doctors would give her a shot of adrenaline which would help some. Dr. Sweeney was Janiece’s physician and he taught her mother how to administer the allergy shots at home to help strengthen her immune system. However, there were still times when the attacks were so severe that she had to be brought to the hospital. One day, the doctor told them that they needed to have air conditioning in their home, because the dry air would help her tremendously. At that time, there wasn’t anyone in their whole neighborhood in South San Antonio that had air conditioning. This was in early 1960, so they looked around the city and bought a Friedrich air conditioner, which cost over $600 at the time. Air conditioners were so expensive, because they were new to the market. It made all the difference in the world for her, but she seemed to be allergic to everything. Her mother had to continually dust the house, including the baseboards and walls. This is the same air conditioner they later took to Colorado when they moved from San Antonio. They stored it in the basement while there, because they found they didn’t need it there and brought it back with them when they moved back to San Antonio. In Colorado, they didn’t need it because it was a different climate.
Janiece recalled, “I had asthma since I was a baby, an infant. It was called chronic bronchial asthma. A lot of times I would have to be rushed to the hospital to get a shot of adrenaline and later on it was a shot of epinephrine. They didn’t have medications like Primatine Mist out on the market yet when I was little. Those came out later when I was in my teens. Until then it was always having to rush to the hospitals or clinics, but most of the time it was to the hospitals.”
When Janiece was three years old, Gin, Bob and the girls were next door visiting with their neighbors. At one point during their visit, Janiece was outside with the neighbor’s dog, a Chow. She had her arm around its neck, like in a hug. She was feeding it her Graham cracker cookie and when she took it back, the dog snapped at her and bit her. Its teeth caught her right under her nose, ripped through her flesh, down through her upper lip and it also punctured the inside roof of her mouth. They immediately got into the Rambler, with Janiece in the front seat with them. She had her head on her mother’s lap. They went to the emergency room at Santa Rosa Hospital in downtown San Antonio. She was required to take the complete series of rabies shots, because the bite was so close to her brain, so they began to administer them immediately. Even though they tested the dog as quickly as they could, she had already completed all of the painful shots before the results came back.
Her parents decided right away to get a plastic surgeon to repair her lip. Miraculously, one was there at the hospital and was very renown. Bob states, “The Lord took care of that, because it could have easily been a hair lip, really exaggerated.” The tear was right through her top lip. The dog’s teeth penetrated so deep, that they turned one of her permanent teeth around and when she got braces, years later, they had to use a spring to slowly turn it back.
The lip atrophied after the bite. It was the orthodontist, years later, who encouraged her to continually massage it, by stroking it downward with the side of her index finger to stimulate growth, to get it to return to normal. Now, you can’t even tell where it happened.
Baptism Of Water
Janiece recalls, “When I was growing up, my parents were Baptists. I do remember Mother loved Jesus. She even told me that she went to a different church once when she was younger, and it went over like a lead balloon with Janiece’s grandmother because they spoke in tongues there.” Janiece said that her mother told her, “They had the Holy Ghost. They had joy in the Lord.”
Janiece continues, “However, when I was little they didn’t go to church. Our next door neighbor was Baptist. He seemed like he knew the Lord somewhat and was involved in the church. We would go with our next door neighbor, Mary Ruth, to Vacation Bible School in the summers. They had studies where you had homework. One time, there was a contest for memorizing the books of the Bible and we only had to memorize the Old Testament. Well, I memorized it forward and backward and I won a Bible. I was so excited. I wanted Jesus so bad during this time of my life.”
“Sometime during one of these weeks I told my mother, ‘I want to go up, Mother, and be water baptized.’”
“She said, ‘Honey you need to understand.’”
“I replied, ‘All I know is I’ve got to go up there.’”
“She said, ‘Honey you have to understand what it is all about and why.’”
“But I would say, ‘I have to go up there, I have to go up there. I was like driven from a little kid. Please, please, please! It’s like I am going to die without this. Please, I got to have this. I got to have Jesus.’”
“As it turns out, Mother finally said OK. On my way up there it was like I could hardly hold my emotions together. So much love! I got baptized finally and every time I messed up I thought I needed a new baptism. You know, it’s like cleaning up again, dunk me again and wash all that stuff off.”
“I don’t know why I stopped going. Didn’t get to go much, though. Life happens you know. Other kids happen around you and stuff happens. I drifted away!”
The Devil Is Real
“I always felt different, tom–boyish and different from Starr and Deborah. I wanted to play rough and they didn’t. I just wanted to have some extreme fun. I liked tree climbing and hiking. They did too for a while, but then boys came into the picture,” said Janiece as she thought about some of the gender struggles she was having at such an early age.
Colorado Springs, Colorado
The family moved to Colorado Springs, Colorado in April 1969 and stayed until December 1970. Bob took a printing job there to get away from the big city. Later on, they moved back for two reasons, one being that his stepfather suffered a stroke and his father–in–law suffered a heart attack. They wanted to be near to help their families. The other reason is answered later on in this chapter.
Janiece recalled, “It was here that I first started working out with lifting weights. It was really neat when we moved to Colorado Springs. I was nine at the time, in 1969.”
“Back then our street, North Circle Drive, ended at a T intersection at North Union Boulevard. Now, it doesn’t. It continues on as Fillmore Street. They have since expanded that road into a loop that goes around the city. There was a church at the end of our street. It was Bellevue Baptist, but is now called Heart Of The Springs. We went there for a little while. Deborah started going to that church with her friend. Later, I went along with her and also Starr. At the corner was a cherry tree. I remember that, the cherries! Wow! I was so glad it hung over the fence. They didn’t like us picking the cherries, but kids will be kids.”
“The bluffs were across the street from our house. We would go out there and play catch. We had our baseball gloves and baseball too. We picnicked a lot too.”
“I really did like it there in Colorado, but I didn’t like finding out that there was a devil, that he actually had a presence and that he was mean. I didn’t like finding that part out. He was scary!”
“My parents used to like to watch ‘Project Terror’ and ‘Twilight Zone.’ Starr was going through some stuff during this time, you know, the teenage years finding out who you are and then realizing that there are boys. They are not just boys anymore. Now, they’re cute. Wow! We are five years difference in age, so that made a big difference between us.”
“I remember Starr talking to someone in her room once. I told her, ‘Shhhh! If I can hear you, Mother and Dad can hear you. You better tell those boys to leave before you get in trouble.’ I figured they were talking through the window. I mean, we did stuff. We were kids. We didn�t always get to have company.”
“She said, ‘Well, there’s nobody here. There are no boys here.’”
“I said, ‘Right! Sure! I hear you. If I can hear you, Mother and Dad will be able to hear down the hall. Just telling you!’”
“And she replied, ‘They’re spirits.’”
“‘Oh, sure they are!’ I replied.”
“She said with a warning tone in her voice, ‘They don’t like to be mocked either.’”
“I replied in unbelief, ‘Okay! Sure! Whatever!’ I found out differently later on.”
“Then, some time later, when I came home from school something happened. I have always thought that this couldn’t have possibly happened because it was too weird, too unnatural, that it couldn’t have happened, but the experience was real and very vivid in my mind to this day.”
“One day after school, I came home. Starr was usually home before us. She went to the high school and I went to Audubon elementary.”
“No one was at home this time, though. I looked into Starr’s room and I saw her shoes slide under the bed. Well, right away I was breath–taken. I was just gripped with fear. I could barely breathe, it was so scary. Then, they popped right back out. Oh God, it was like my chest was hurting. It was an ultra–paralyzing fear. I ran out of the house and it seemed like I didn’t even open the screen door, rather I just pushed through it and I kept going. I kept trying to avoid her window, while I was going next door to my best friend’s house to see if he was home. I mean, her window was right there and there was my best friend’s house. I kept trying to keep out of the view of the window. I was so terrified! No one was home and I thought, ‘That’s not right either. There is always somebody there, gosh, either, Tom, or Donna, or Steven.’”
“I was looking for someone to be home somewhere, but no one seemed to be home. I walked up towards the school and a short while later, I thought I’d better get home or I’m going to be in trouble. So I got back home and it was like nothing had happened to the screen door. Everything was fine. I told Starr what had happened and she said, ‘I told you they don�t like to be mocked.’”
“I said, ‘Okay, so I’m not messing with you anymore.’ From then on, I was afraid of her and them. At that point in my life, I was more aware of them, even more so than my love for Jesus. From then on, every scary show was even more scary than before, because now there was a life to it. It was real. It wasn’t just a show anymore. I was a real scaredy–cat. I was afraid of the dark, everything.”
“There was an earlier time, before we moved to Colorado Springs, that I was crying out in the middle of the night, ‘Mother! Mother! Mother! Mother!’ She came to the door and I said, ‘Watch out! They’ll get you!’”
“She asked, ‘What?’”
“I exclaimed, ‘They’re everywhere! They’re like giant animals, like giant turtles, frogs and stuff! Don’t come in, but help me!’ I didn’t know what to do. I was so scared.”
“She said, ‘Aw, honey, there isn’t anything here.’”
“‘They’re all around!’ I exclaimed. ‘They’re all around!’”
“She said, ‘Honey, you’re sleeping.’”
“I said, ‘How can I be sleeping if we’re talking? They are all around!’ She came in and she comforted me. Oh, gosh, I remember so much of the time, I just wanted to make a device that I could telescope out to turn the light switch on from across the room. You know, so that I wouldn’t have to actually get up. I knew that when I turned the light on they weren’t going to be there. Turn off the lights and I could see them again. It was only in the dark that I could see them and I hated the dark. I was so afraid of the dark. I didn’t like being awake before anyone else and I didn’t like being home before they got home. I never felt safe inside, anywhere alone, anymore. I felt safer outside. I didn’t feel safe inside, ever.”
Just One Of The Boys
Janiece changed the subject at this point, “Along the way though, I just enjoyed being a kid. I liked to climb things and play football. ‘The guys’ on the street were just the guys on the street. They were my buddies. I was their quarterback. They would come knocking on the door and ask my mother, ‘Can Janiece come out and play?’”
“Sometimes, I would have asthma attacks and I couldn’t go out and play. Mother would have to tell them ‘no,’ to which they once replied, ‘Well, she’s got to! She’s our quarterback!’ It was then she understood how they felt about me.”
“Starr and Deborah had their friends that were their age and they were girls. There weren’t any girls my age close by, but that was fine with me. I was having a good time. I wanted someone to be rough with and just play. To me, we were just playing, climbing trees and jumping off of the house. Jumping off of the house would just unnerve Mother. She would get so mad at me. It made her really mad, but now that I am a mom, I found out that it scares you when it’s your child.”
Drugs, Rock & Roll
Janiece continued on…
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