Widow of murder victim forgives his killers




Posted on May 6, 2010 at 5:35 PM

Updated Thursday, May 6 at 6:56 PM

PUYALLUP, Wash. - Charlene Sanders is a woman of great faith who says she will carry on the mission of her late husband, Jim Sanders.

"That is my mission now," she says from Bethany Baptist Church where she worships. "To finish what my husband started with witnessing (for Christ). He wanted to see people come to Christ, even murderers."

Jim Sanders was shot and killed April 28 in front of Charlene and their two sons during a robbery in their home. Four people are in custody in what's being called the Craigslist robbery because the suspects pretended to be interested in buying a diamond ring Sanders advertised on Craigslist.

When Charlene saw the female suspect, Amanda Knight, during her arraignment Wednesday, she said it was "chilling."

"I remember thinking, 'Your phone call to my husband, the female voice, is what probably made him let his guard down,'" said Sanders.

She says she'll never forget the look on her husband's face.

"When we were laying on the floor zip-tied and him looking at me, I knew what was going through his head, because he always wanted to protect his family. He said he'd always protect us, no matter what. And the look on his face, I knew he was thinking, 'What have I done?'  And I wanted to tell him, 'Honey, it's not your fault. You just trusted.'"

Charlene and Jim married seven and a half years ago. They met while feeding the homeless at the Tacoma Dome.

"I thought to myself, 'Wow, if a guy can come out here on a Friday night with a buddy with all these sandwiches to feed the homeless, (he) must be a pretty good guy,'" she recalled.

Jim loved cooking and they planned a sunny retirement, until the shocking event last Wednesday.

"They took my love. They took my future," says Charlene. "He wanted to retire on St. John and open a little snorkeling business. We were just going to live out our lives there."

Charlene credits God for helping her through the last week. And she says, she must forgive her husband's killers.

"I have to," she says. "If I want to be forgiven, I have to forgive them."

A memorial service for Jim Sanders will be held Saturday, May 8 at 2 p.m. at Bethany Baptist Church in Puyallup. The public is welcome.