She confessed to a brutal murder back in the 1980s, but on Monday, she left prison a free woman at the age of 43.
Paula Cooper may be out, but she is also forgiven. A relative of the woman Cooper stabbed more than 30 times is waiting to see her and help her.
Alaska resident Bill Pelke has traveled a long way to Chicago for one reason and one reason only: He wants to help Cooper pull her life together, decades after cooper ripped his family’s life apart.
Gary Indiana bible school teacher Ruth Pelke, 78, was brutally murdered over $10 and a stolen car back in 1985. Her grandson and the rest of the family grief stricken.
But with time and prayer, Bill Pelke let go of the bitterness toward cooper and the heinous crime. He forgave her. The date was November 2, 1986. Since then, he and Paula Cooper have been writing letters to one another. He has visited her in prison 15 times over the years. He wants to help Paula get a fresh start in life. This, after the girl– only 15 when she murdered Mrs. Pelke — was given a death sentence in Indiana.
Several years later, she was given a second chance at life when her sentence was commuted to 60 years behind bars — a gift Mrs. Pelke wasn’t afforded.
In a statement, Paula Cooper’s sister said:
“Paula has worked hard to change her life in the decades since the crime. She entered prison as a very troubled teenager and is leaving a reformed woman. We are proud of how much she’s grown and she has all of our support as she starts this second chance at life. As always, our sincerest thoughts and prayers go out to the Pelke family.”
In addition to wanting to help Paula Cooper get a job and find her way on the outside, Bill Pelke wants to take her shopping, even buy her a computer.
The two have not seen each other yet, since Paula’s release, but Mr. Pelke will be here through the week and plans to connect with her in person.