Still Standing: Daughter’s Loss Leads To New Beginnings

By Rebecca Petty
Andi Brewer

Andi Brewer

I stand for a moment, on the lawn of the Arkansas State Capitol, and think about what I am getting ready to do and what has brought me here. Briefcase in hand, I head towards the building determined to set out on a course to help make the state a better place. Why? Because of my daughter, Andi. She is why for the past 15-years I have devoted my life to children and crime victims. Today, I will file to run for Arkansas State Representative for District 94, the House of Representatives. Me, a woman, daughter, a mother, a person who would never have thought anything like this could be possible.

Andi Brewer

I gave birth to Andi three days shy of my seventeenth birthday, a baby with a baby. I never experienced true love until I laid eyes on that wonderful creation. I loved her desperately and raising her to the age of 12 was a blessing. Then on a fateful day, Andi went missing from her father’s rural Arkansas home. After a three day state-wide search, authorities informed me she had been kidnapped, driven down an old logging road, brutally raped, and strangled to death by a predatory monster. Part of my heart withered and died.
Rebecca Petty

Rebecca Petty

I cannot explain in words what it feels like to have a child who has been savagely murdered. At first, I felt like a tamed animal who had gone feral. My mind could not process the pain and suffering she must have endured in those last moments. Thoughts of my child begging for her life were pure and utter torture. For several months, I could barely breathe. Then help came in the form of a letter from Marc Klaas from the KlaasKids Foundation. Marc offered words of strength and encouragement, even in the midst of his own tragedy of losing Polly. Other families who had suffered a similar tragedy began to reach out to me as well, and I began to rise up slowly from the depths of hell on earth.

Because of the tragedy of the abduction, rape, and murder of my child, unbeknownst to me, I became the expert on this horrendous type of criminal behavior. I knew I needed to learn everything I could to fight this kind of crime or my daughter’s legacy would be at risk – and so would other children.

I began to speak to law enforcement, my community, parents, children and eventually law makers. I studied everything I could on the issues, walked the halls of Capitol Hill in Washington DC, encouraged President Bush to sign the Amber Alert into federal law (what an honor that was), and this past fall I graduated from Arkansas Tech University with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. I have currently been accepted into the masters of leadership and ethics program at John Brown University.

Which leads me back to standing in front of the Capitol building in Little Rock, Arkansas. My state senator, Bart Hester, impressed with my determined nature and what he calls me “pizazz,” asked if I would be interested in running for state office. Due to term limits, my state representative was leaving an open seat in my district. After much thought, I realized that though I wasn’t a career politician or a woman who was seeking the next rung on a political ladder, I was a woman who had had the worst of the worst happen to her and was still standing. And that must mean something.

I also have an agenda: to help make sure that children grow up safe, that civil liberties are protected, and my state and the United State Constitutions are upheld.

These thoughts rush through my mind as I walk up the stairs in the state Capitol to sign up to run for the House of Representatives. In the end, I hope and pray one day I will be able to hold my daughter again in the heavenly realm and kiss her sweet face and say to her, “It was all for you. I fought for you.” And to feel her hug me back and say, “Thanks, mommy,” will be all I ever needed.

Rebecca Petty is a candidate for Arkansas State Representative District 94

Marc Klaas

About Marc Klaas

I am President of the KlaasKids Foundation and BeyondMissing, Inc. Both organizations are 501(c)(3) public benefit non profit organizations.

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