Photo: George Burns/Harpo Studios
When Rebecca, Ellie's daughter, was just 23 years old, she buried her mother. Her older brother, Willy, was not allowed to leave prison for the funeral.
Today, Rebecca returns to The Oprah Show for the first time in 15 years to reflect on her family's tragic past.
"You all suffered because your mom, in an act of rage in the courtroom, didn't want to see that molester go free again," Oprah says. "Any mother or father watching can understand what that rage feels like."
Since Ellie and Willy have been in prison for most of Rebecca's life, she says she hasn't been able to move forward with her life. "It's been really hard to move on and know that I have a normal life," she says. "I'll catch myself laughing with family, and I'll sit back and I'll be like: 'You know, [mom and Willy] should be here with me in this moment. They should be able to laugh like this.'"
Thanks to the supportive loved ones who took her in after her mother went to prison, Rebecca says she's doing "okay" and living a normal life. She got married and has children, but during the big milestones in her life, Rebecca wishes she had Willy and Ellie by her side. "My brother wasn't able to walk me down the aisle," she says. "[At] graduation, my mom wasn't able to be there."
Rebecca says she doesn't think Willy would be in prison today if it weren't for her mother shooting his molestor. "He even stated he was over the molestation," Rebecca says. "What hurt all of us was mom being torn away from us."