The Christine Ann Story
She was born on the Fourth of July, and every year there were fireworks on her birthday. She was one of those "later in life" babies, and her older siblings doted on her. She was a shy kid, but when it came to performing she said she didn't mind being in front of a group of people at all, as long as it was music that put her in the limelight. She grew into a gifted musician, playing piano, French horn and singing in high school. She concentrated her energy on the French horn in college and graduated from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh with a major in music education. She taught for a few years and was well loved by her colleagues and the children whose lives she touched, but her career as a teacher was cut short when she died as a victim of domestic abuse.
Christine Ann Clark had about as normal a life as anyone could as she grew up just outside Fond du Lac. Like many of her friends, she met her husband, Alan, in college and they were married just after Chris graduated. She had studied music and so began teaching elementary music. Alan soon became abusive, but she only hinted to her family about her problems. Much later, Alan acknowledged that he had twisted her arms, pulled her hair, slapped and punched her, causing black eyes, bloody lips and sore areas on her head.
Nothing she tried seemed to make a difference, although he would apologize and promise never to do it again. At one point, Chris ran away for more than 24 hours, but Alan convinced her to return. However, the abuse seemed to escalate, and he told her if she ever left again, he would take their daughter and Chris would never see her again and threatened to kill the baby. Finally, out of fear for the welfare of her child, Chris left and checked into a domestic abuse shelter in the Milwaukee area. From there, she called her parents and told them about some of the abuse she had suffered.
After thinking carefully about her options, Chris went to live with her parents and filed for divorce. Although Alan became involved with a group for batterers and said that he had been helped by the group, he wouldn't leave Chris alone.
Claiming to love his daughter very much, Alan settled for biweekly visitations with their daughter, saying that it was too much trouble to drive from Milwaukee to Fond du Lac weekly. Meanwhile, he plotted what he would do. One day, when he was to return the baby to Fond du Lac, he wrote that he would like to change the regular meeting place. Using the baby as bait, he lured Chris to a secluded outdoor spot where they had spent time in the past.
When some people walking near the area noticed things were not right, they called the police, who found the baby asleep in the car and Chris' body several yards away. She had been murdered by multiple blows to the head with a tire iron. Alan told authorities that he and Chris had been attacked by a stranger, but the evidence at the scene didn't match his story.
One year later, Alan was convicted of first degree intentional homicide and first degree sexual assault. He refused to admit any responsibility for the crime, although he changed his story several times. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Throughout the ordeal of her relationship, Chris drew on her own strength to do what she thought was best to survive. She was resourceful and leaned on friends, family and helping agencies. Her desire to protect her daughter from a life of violence and sexual abuse caused her to end the marriage. Her death reminds us of the need to remain constantly vigilant in our work and never to underestimate the potential for deadly consequences. It also reminds us of the losses our community endures. We lose the feeling of sanctuary in our homes, the productivity of adults who are victimized, and the future well-being of our children. We see the grief of family and friends, the high costs of medical, legal and helping services and the expense of criminal justice when we deal with domestic violence. The greatest loss of all is the cherished life of one of our friends.