Criminal Justice

Halloween Means Murder—and Justice—to Victim's Family

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For nearly 25 years, there’s been no trick-or-treating at the California home of the Hoynes family

Halloween in 1984 was the day when the family found out that one of their four girls, 21-year-old Robin, had been murdered at her job as a manager of a fast-food restaurant in nearby Torrance, Calif., the night before. “Ever since, the family has kept the Whittier home dark on the holiday, no pumpkins carved, no candy given out,” reports the Los Angeles Times in a magazine-length article today.

Friday, as another Halloween loomed, the family finally got their chance to tell her killer, William Charles Marshall, what he had done to them. A former employee of the restaurant who had been fired shortly before Robin Hoynes was murdered, he apparently came back to return his uniform and found her there, alone, counting the night receipts. A suspect from the start, Marshall was arrested shortly after the crime but was then released for lack of evidence. The case wasn’t prosecuted until more than two decades later, after police matched a piece of foam found at the crime scene to the boots he was wearing when he was initially arrested. Earlier this month, a California jury convicted him of the murder.

The surviving members of the Hoynes family didn’t expect Marshall to admit his guilt or say he was sorry when they went to court Friday for his sentencing. But they did get a chance to tell him what they thought and talk about how Robin’s murder had devastated their lives, and that, along with his life sentence, has helped close the case for them emotionally.

“Today, Oct. 31, 2007, will mark a new chapter for her family,” the Times article concludes. That’s because, one day not long after Marshall’s conviction, Robin’s mother, Ethel Hoynes, “turned to her oldest daughter and said, ‘I guess we need to buy some Halloween candy’ “

“This may not sound like a very important statement,” Kim told the court at Friday’s sentencing, “but in the 23 years that Robin has been gone, it will be the first candy to be given out at my mom’s. We can do this now knowing that October 31 doesn’t only represent the day we found out about Robin’s death. We can now take comfort that she has had her day in court, and justice has prevailed.”

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