Tulsa Father Forgives Man Who Raped And Murdered His Daughter
TULSA, Oklahoma - The father of a 10-year-old girl who was raped and murdered, said it took him 13 years to forgive his daughter's killer.
The murder of fourth grader, Elizabeth Wagoner, shocked Tulsa in 2006.
She went for a walk after school, when a neighbor strangled her and left her body by a dumpster near 21st and Sheridan, wrapped in duct tape.
Elizabeth Wagoner's father calls her Libby and says she was everything innocent and pure in the world, but, for a time, he lost all those precious memories of her, because every time he blinked his eyes, all he could see was that moment he saw her dead, discarded by a dumpster after dying a horrible death.
Bill Wagoner said dragging around all the hate and condemnation for Libby's killer was bringing him down too.
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Wagoner said grieving for his daughter was a journey through hell, and the only thing that brought him through the other side was God. He said he finally knew how to take the hate out of his heart. He must forgive Daniel Johnson.
"That's what forgiveness is, if you want to forgive somebody, simply tell yourself, I release my condemnation so we may both be free," Wagoner said.
"I never considered him evil, the act is evil," he said.
Wagoner said after he chose forgiveness, that image of his daughter is now harder to recall and instead, he can focus of his most favorite memory of his precious girl.
"The day she was born," he said.
Wagoner said he not only forgave Johnson, he feels love toward the man.
"I still hold him in my heart and hope he finds God, and finds what I've found," he said.
He said he would like to someday sit down with Johnson and hear his story. Johnson had a wife and child at the time of the crime and is now serving life without parole plus 35 years.