Closing Horrific Chapter In Victim's Family's Life

2:14 PM, Nov 11, 2009   |    comments
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JARRATT, Va. (WUSA) --  9NEWS NOW Digital Correspondent Surae Chinn followed Nelson Rivera on execution day.  His wife, Lori, was killed while cleaning out her car at a Kensington, Md., gas station in 2002.

Chinn met Rivera as he began his 180 mile drive from Wheaton, Md. to Jarratt, Va.   It's a three hour drive, but it's been an anguishing seven year journey for Rivera.

Rivera says, "I'm ready.  The day has come."

Chinn followed him as he arrived in the town of Jarratt.  As the minutes and miles went by, Rivera changed.  He was feeling anxious now just four hours before the execution set for 9 pm. Tuesday.


Rivera wanted to stop to get a drink.  Rivera chose a KFC and sat down to reflect.  That's when Rivera felt a flood of memories came back.  He said the emotions are as fresh as if the murder happened just yesterday. 

He remembers the call he received when he learned of his wife's death.  Lori was vacuuming her car at a Kensington gas station. In that split second, the DC sniper snatched the couple's future away just shy of their 5 year wedding anniversary.

At this moment, he thinks about their daughter, Jocelin, who was only 3 at the time who once told his dad she wanted to die to be with mommy. 

Rivera says, "It's hard for me to talk about it. It breaks my heart."

Rivera who's now remarried, still wears his wedding band on his right hand from his marriage to Lori.

Rivera says, "I can't wait for this moment so I don't have to think about that monster breathing the same air again."

He adds, "I'm ready to close this chapter and start new again."

Two hours before execution, he headed back to the Sheriff's department, where all the other victims' families would meet.  He said not all the emotions are bad.  He reflects on his beloved wife and talked about their first date.  He said he didn't know any English and Lori didn't know any Spanish. But that would begin their courtship and a happy marriage that produced their daughter Jocelin.

Chinn met with Rivera after the execution. 

He says, "To tell you the truth, I'm happy.  I can get on with my life and try to enjoy life again." 

Thoughts of relief and justice he says for the love of his life he waited seven years for.

The darkest days may be behind Rivera but he says, "I think about her every single day of my life."

Written by Surae Chinn

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