Searching for Closure
In 1995, Eric was sentenced to death for the brutal murders. His final appeal was denied in May 2009.
Update: Eric was executed by lethal injection on December 11, 2009.
Watch Kim and Matt talk about their parents.
Matt says he was too young to remember much from that night, but Kim says she remembers every detail. "I remember waking up, and Eric was actually outside my bedroom door and standing over Debbie's body saying: 'Debbie, please don't die. Please don't die.'"
Kim says she waited for Eric to leave and then set out to find her little brother. "I went through the house looking for him," she says. "On the way to my parents' bedroom, I had to step over Debbie's body and then into my parents' room. My dad was on the floor, and there was Matt in our parents' bed hiding under the covers, so I got my brother and we went back to our room."
Kim says she found Eric's 7-year-old son on the way to her room. The three children huddled on a top bunk until police found them. "They covered my brother's eyes and my cousin Seth's eyes and they told me to cover my eyes," she says. "Thankfully, I did, because it turns out on my front porch was where my mom was at, and I'm really glad that I don't have to live with that picture in my head."
Tracy says she didn't want to leave the house without Natalie. As they heard Eric coming closer, Tracy says Natalie pushed her out the door. "She was protecting me from him because she said: 'There he is. Go, get help,'" she says. "Natalie took the bullet that was meant for me. Natalie saved my life and gave hers up."
Though her life was spared, Tracy says a part of her died that night. "I think about Tony and Natalie, Debbie and that night every day."
In an effort to start healing, Tracy says she recently wrote Eric a letter. "I forgave Eric Wrinkles for killing my family," she says. "It was time to start healing, and that's where I wanted to start from. ... I don't want him to be out of prison, but I don't want him on death row."
Eric says he never intended to kill anyone that night. He says he was high on meth and on his way to a friend's house out of town. Eric says he wore camouflage because he planned to go hunting and fishing and only stopped by to the house to see his children. "I didn't think I would ever see them again," he says. "It wasn't to kill anybody."
Some family members feel Eric uses his drug abuse as an excuse for the murders. Eric says he understands their point. "I take full responsibility for what I did," he says. "But [Natalie and I] never had problems until the drugs. Anyone that's done methamphetamine, it changes you—and not in a good way."
When asked whether he deserves the death penalty, Eric says he doesn't think his opinion matters. Still, he says even the 14 years he's spent in prison could never make up for what he did. "You can't put a price on human life," he says.
Watch Kim read Eric's letter
Kim says she's not sure she can trust Eric's apology—but seeing him die won't bring her any resolution. "I forgave him a long time ago," Kim says. "I don't want to carry that hate with me for the rest of my life."
Matt agrees. "I just think he should sit in jail for the rest of his life. Taking him is not going to bring my parents back."
Mary says she doesn't believe Eric's story, but she still forgives him. "I pray for you that you ask God for forgiveness, because that's where it's all at. And I ask everybody to write the governor to stop the death penalty because we're not here to judge. You deserve to be in jail, but we don't want you to die."
"I think that's very big of Mary," Eric says.
Mae doesn't believe Eric deserves to live. "He has been tried by 12 jurors. He was sentenced to death row, and that's where he should go. He should die," she says. "He killed three beautiful people and left four children orphaned."
"I have gotten over this anger until this came up again," she says. "I don't have [any] sympathy for you, Eric. You've never said to me that you were sorry. Never."
After the show's audience left, Tracy, Kim and Matt have one last chance to talk to Eric. See what they had to say