Eau Claire County (WQOW) - It's something seen in movies, meeting face to face with one's sibling's killer, but that's exactly the reality facing a brother and sister from Eau Claire County.
Tricia Lenz and Greg Fahrman are the brother and sister of Susie Fahrman. Susie was raped, and then murdered by a man named Jeffrey Smith on January 20,1987.
“It was the first day of second semester classes in Eau Claire,” said Lenz, “Susie was supposed to meet me that evening at a night class, which she did not show up to, and I became concerned and I went to her apartment to check on her and I found her.”
Lenz said she's on a “forgiveness journey” but her forgiveness is being tested; this September 14, a judge ordered that a supervised release be prepared for Smith.
“If he's coming out in the Chippewa Valley, there's 34 Fahrmans that live here,” said Fahrman. “And we shouldn't have to worry about running into him on the street or in the grocery store or movie theater and things like that.”
Greg Fahrman, Susie's brother, believes Smith isn't a changed man, but former Eau Claire County Chaplain, Tom Herro, believes change is possible for anyone, especially with help from God.
“I've seen dramatic changes in peoples lives,” said Herro, “It's not only possible, but it happens all the time. Because I've seen it in the 15 years I've worked in jail ministry. They get involved in the church, and they make new friends, and their life is centered on the Lord.”
Herro didn't get to know Smith, and isn't sure of his intentions, but Susie's siblings don't want to take any chances, that's why they've supported a petition to either keep Smith locked up or keep him out of Eau Claire County.
“The main concern is that he's going to come out, re-offend, there will be another victim and another family that has to deal with this,” said Fahrman.
Susie's siblings said Smith's supervised release plan is supposed to go before the judge December 14. If he is released, he would be back in Eau Claire County in January because that is where he was from; but, there are Wisconsin statues on supervised release that say if the court has a good reason to select another county, then they it can do so. That's why Fahrman and Lenz are hoping the petition will be welcomed by the community and create enough of a reason for the court to act accordingly.