After Murder, Decades Waiting For Justice, Family Loses Home To Fire

Thursday, August 9th 2012, 9:58 pm
By: News On 6

One family who lost a home to the wildfires last weekend is no stranger to tragedy.

They experienced a murder, then a 37-year fight for justice, and now they are homeless.

Debbie Huggins and her mother, Anne, are strong women, but this most recent blow has been a tough one.

Debbie's father was murdered in 1975.

Two juries gave the killer a death sentence, but Debbie and Anne had to fight and fight for more than three decades for him to be executed.

After it happened in May, they were finally living stress-free for the first time, and now this.

4/23/2012 Related Story: Green Country Family Waits Decades For Justice

Debbie and Anne get tears in their eyes when they see what is left of their home.

They lost everything but a change of clothes.

All pictures and mementos of Debbie's father, Anne's husband, Clayton Chandler, are destroyed.

He was murdered during a convenience store hold up in 1975.

Debbie and Anne spent years, driving to prisons, begging the parole board, fighting appeals until, 37 years later, the killer, Michael Selsor was executed.

They finally felt they could breathe easy and get on with their lives, until last Saturday, when Debbie looked down the road and saw flames as tall as the trees.

"I said, ‘We've got to go. It's going to kill us all if we don't get out,'" Debbie said.

She and her mother grabbed a change of clothes and rushed out of there, literally driving through a wall of fire to safety.

"I couldn't see the windshield wipers on the car, that's how thick the smoke was," Debbie said.

Everything of her father's, every picture, everything from the trials and their years of battling for justice, are gone, along with every belonging Debbie has worked her entire life to accumulate, which she realized, when she was allowed back in on Sunday.

"I got about to that willow tree … and I just screamed and totally lost it,' Debbie said.

Debbie has a little insurance, so she knows she's better off than some.

She and Anne are staying with a friend until they can make plans.

She said it's just so hard to believe that once they finally thought their life was on the right track, life deals them another blow.

"You have this thought, ‘Do I even want to start over or just give up?'" Debbie said. "But, I've never given up on anything and I'm not gonna start now."

Debbie and Anne are staying with a friend until they can get their insurance money and start the long process of starting over.