Life Sentences For Folly Beach Victims' Families

Life Sentences For Folly Beach Victims' Families

Victims' families continue to fight. Folly Beach murdered denied parole for 19th time.
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Trigger warning: This article contains information about a crime that includes violence, murder, rape and kidnapping.

I had not thought about the events surrounding the gruesome murders and kidnapping of young girls in the small community of Folly Beach for over thirty years. A simple suggestion for a writing assignment brought back memories that have haunted me for several days. I called my “sister” friend to see what she remembered. She, too, had not thought of the Folly Beach Strangler and the teens in as many years. She told me:

“It was so awful. Nobody could believe it. I mean the guy lived at the beach and even had kids. Everybody said he was like a Bible toting Christian, but they found all kind of Satan stuff at his house. And he buried them at the damn beach in the dunes. When me and Jimmy would go to the beach, we stayed away from down that end. We would go up near the pier instead. Gives me chills to think about it.”

Melissa Boughton Jul 19, 2016 Post and Courier:

A state parole board on Wednesday denied convicted murderer Richard Valenti’s 19th bid for parole.

Valenti, now 73, is serving two life sentences at Lee Correctional Institution in Bishopville. He was convicted of killing Sherri Clark, 14, and Alexis Ann Latimer, 13, in 1973. Their bodies were found in two shallow graves on Folly Beach more than 10 months after their disappearance.

Valenti, a former sailor stationed at Charleston Naval Base, forced the teens under his house at gunpoint. He bound and gagged them and made them stand on chairs. He tied ropes around their necks, kicked the chairs away and watched the girls die.

He also was charged with strangling 16-year-old Mary Earline Bunch in 1974 and attacking five other women. Those charges were dropped after he got two life sentences.

After the bodies of the girls had been found buried in the sand dunes, I stopped going to the part of the beach where they were found. After these memories had resurfaced, I felt compelled to return to the beach. I left early Saturday morning, arrived at Folly Beach and turned left on Artic Ave where the murders took place. Hurricanes, rip tides, erosion and expensive beach front homes have changed the landscape of the beach. One single seagull stood watching guard over the sand dunes that once were the tombs for the young girls. A couple, holding hands and laughing, walked by seemingly unaware of the haunting feelings of grief and sadness I was experiencing.

Bill Burr July 14, 2014 ABC News

Richard Valenti is serving two consecutive life sentences for murdering Sherry Clark and two other young girls in 1973. Since the mid-80s, He’s been eligible for parole every two years. Every 24 months Sherry’s mother Janice collected petitions to convince the parole board to deny Valenti’s release. When Janice died in 2003, Paula continued her mother’s mission.

While my friend and I pushed these traumatic memories into the part of the brain that lets us hide the unimaginable, the same is not true for the families of these girls. Every two years, the families must face the trauma again. I haven’t thought of the girls and the gruesome murders in a very long time, but as I stood on the beach, I couldn’t imagine the horror of having to recall those memories every day for more than forty years.

I found the more of the story in a book Palmetto Predators, Monsters Among Us by Mark Jones. It contained many of the details shared in conversations between the locals of Folly Beach and James Island during those months. The book begins the story of Richard Valenti. Jones says, “This story tracks the loss of innocence; not just for the eight victims and their families, but for an entire small community.”

Sherri Clark’s sister, Paula Clark Marion, presented a petition with 8,000 signatures to the parole board Wednesday, according to Pete O’Boyle, a spokesman for the Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services.

Valenti became eligible for parole in 1983. At the time of his sentencing, the law required that Valenti serve only 10 years in prison before being eligible for parole on the life sentences. He comes up for parole every two years and will be eligible for a hearing again July 18, 2018 (Boughton).

“I put links on Facebook,” she (Paula) said. “I’ve got a couple of Valenti pages. I’ve got an oppose parole Valenti page.” Paula said she fears that as Valenti gets older, the parole board will see him as less of a threat (Burr).

Our country’s system of justice seems broken in many ways. We have recently discovered that changing a broken system is possible by leveraging our collective voices and supporting organizations such as the ACLU. Perhaps we can change a system that forces families to face a “cruel and unusual punishment” by returning to parole hearing or provide recorded DVD’s, petitions and letters so that convicted individuals will be required to serve the sentences imposed upon them. It won’t be an easy task, but perhaps it is worth the effort.

Cover Image Credit: Post and Courier

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College As Told By Junie B. Jones

A tribute to the beloved author Barbara Parks.
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The Junie B. Jones series was a big part of my childhood. They were the first chapter books I ever read. On car trips, my mother would entertain my sister and me by purchasing a new Junie B. Jones book and reading it to us. My favorite part about the books then, and still, are how funny they are. Junie B. takes things very literally, and her (mis)adventures are hilarious. A lot of children's authors tend to write for children and parents in their books to keep the attention of both parties. Barbara Park, the author of the Junie B. Jones series, did just that. This is why many things Junie B. said in Kindergarten could be applied to her experiences in college, as shown here.

When Junie B. introduces herself hundreds of times during orientation week:

“My name is Junie B. Jones. The B stands for Beatrice. Except I don't like Beatrice. I just like B and that's all." (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 1)

When she goes to her first college career fair:

"Yeah, only guess what? I never even heard of that dumb word careers before. And so I won't know what the heck we're talking about." (Junie B. Jones and her Big Fat Mouth, p. 2)

When she thinks people in class are gossiping about her:

“They whispered to each other for a real long time. Also, they kept looking at me. And they wouldn't even stop." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 66)

When someone asks her about the library:

“It's where the books are. And guess what? Books are my very favorite things in the whole world!" (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 27)

When she doesn't know what she's eating at the caf:

“I peeked inside the bread. I stared and stared for a real long time. 'Cause I didn't actually recognize the meat, that's why. Finally, I ate it anyway. It was tasty...whatever it was." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 66)

When she gets bored during class:

“I drew a sausage patty on my arm. Only that wasn't even an assignment." (Junie B. Jones Loves Handsome Warren, p. 18)

When she considers dropping out:

“Maybe someday I will just be the Boss of Cookies instead!" (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 76)

When her friends invite her to the lake for Labor Day:

“GOOD NEWS! I CAN COME TO THE LAKE WITH YOU, I BELIEVE!" (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 17)

When her professor never enters grades on time:

“I rolled my eyes way up to the sky." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 38)

When her friends won't stop poking her on Facebook:


“Do not poke me one more time, and I mean it." (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 7)

When she finds out she got a bad test grade:

“Then my eyes got a little bit wet. I wasn't crying, though." (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 17)

When she isn't allowed to have a pet on campus but really wants one:

“FISH STICK! I NAMED HIM FISH STICK BECAUSE HE'S A FISH STICK, OF COURSE!" (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 59)

When she has to walk across campus in the dark:

“There's no such thing as monsters. There's no such thing as monsters." (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed, p. 12)

When her boyfriend breaks her heart:

“I am a bachelorette. A bachelorette is when your boyfriend named Ricardo dumps you at recess. Only I wasn't actually expecting that terrible trouble." (Junie B. Jones Is (almost) a Flower Girl, p. 1)

When she paints her first canvas:


"And painting is the funnest thing I love!" (Junie B. Jones and her Big Fat Mouth, p. 61)

When her sorority takes stacked pictures:

“The biggie kids stand in the back. And the shortie kids stand in the front. I am a shortie kid. Only that is nothing to be ashamed of." (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed, p. 7)

When she's had enough of the caf's food:

“Want to bake a lemon pie? A lemon pie would be fun, don't you think?" (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed p. 34)

When she forgets about an exam:

“Speechless is when your mouth can't speech." (Junie B. Jones Loves Handsome Warren, p. 54)

When she finds out she has enough credits to graduate:

“A DIPLOMA! A DIPLOMA! I WILL LOVE A DIPLOMA!" (Junie B. Jones is a Graduation Girl p. 6)

When she gets home from college:

"IT'S ME! IT'S JUNIE B. JONES! I'M HOME FROM MY SCHOOL!" (Junie B. Jones and some Sneaky Peaky Spying p. 20)

Cover Image Credit: OrderOfBooks

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8 Types Of People Fetuses Grow Into That 'Pro-Lifers' Don't Give 2.5 Shits About

It is easy to fight for the life of someone who isn't born, and then forget that you wanted them to be alive when you decide to hate their existence.

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For those in support of the #AbortionBans happening all over the United States, please remember that the unborn will not always be a fetus — he or she may grow up to be just another person whose existence you don't support.

The fetus may grow up to be transgender — they may wear clothes you deem "not for them" and identify in a way you don't agree with, and their life will mean nothing to you when you call them a mentally unstable perv for trying to use the bathroom.

The fetus may grow up to be gay — they may find happiness and love in the arms of someone of the same gender, and their life will mean nothing to you when you call them "vile" and shield your children's eyes when they kiss their partner.

The fetus may grow up and go to school — to get shot by someone carrying a gun they should have never been able to acquire, and their life will mean nothing to you when your right to bear arms is on the line.

The fetus may be black — they may wear baggy pants and "look like a thug", and their life will mean nothing to you when you defend the police officer who had no reason to shoot.

The fetus may grow up to be a criminal — he might live on death row for a heinous crime, and his life will mean nothing to you when you fight for the use of lethal injection to end it.

The fetus may end up poor — living off of a minimum wage job and food stamps to survive, and their life will mean nothing to you when they ask for assistance and you call them a "freeloader" and refuse.

The fetus may end up addicted to drugs — an experimentation gone wrong that has led to a lifetime of getting high and their life will mean nothing to you when you see a report that they OD'd and you make a fuss about the availability of Narcan.

The fetus may one day need an abortion — from trauma or simply not being ready, and her life will mean nothing to you as you wave "murderer" and "God hates you" signs as she walks into the office for the procedure.

* * *

Do not tell me that you are pro-life when all of the above people could lose their lives in any way OUTSIDE of abortion and you wouldn't give 2.5 shits.

You fight for the baby to be born, but if he or she is gay or trans, you will berate them for who they are or not support them for who they love.

You fight for the baby to be born, but if he or she is poor or addicted, you will refuse the help they desperately need or consider their death a betterment of society.

You fight for the baby to be born, but when the used-to-be-classroom-of-fetuses is shot, you care more about your access to firearms than their lives.

It is easy to pretend you care about someone before they are even born, and easy to forget their birth was something you fought for when they are anything other than what you consider an ideal person.

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