Sunday, October 4, 2009

Mark Lunsford; A Man of Quiet Dignity

In February of 2005, little Jessica Marie Lunsford was taken from her bed by a monster named John Couey. Her father, Mark Lunsford, a self proclaimed redneck, sat on local tv, his legs pitifully shaking
in terror, told of a chatroom he was about to set up and said that he was looking for moderators. I lived in Florida at the time and emailed the contact address that ran across the bottom of the screen and by the end of the day, I was one of the four moderators for Jessie's chatroom.

I am not going to post the horrors of what occurred. I will not use her ordeal as a subject of this post. Nor will I post any photos of either Jessie or John Couey, the monster who caused so much pain for his own personal agenda. But I will say Couey was convicted and sentenced to death.

We moderators would take turns sitting up through the night, watching our computer screens, making sure no inappropriate comments were posted in the chatroom. Often, Mark lunsford, AKA JMLdad, would sit at his computer and message with us. Mark is a common man. I do not think he is very educated or well read. I'm not sure he has ever set a foot in a museum or seen a ballet or heard an opera. But I can tell you this; Mark is a man of profound dignity and grace. You would not know this by the way he looks, but he leaves an impression on everyone who has ever spent any time with him.

Here's an example of Mark's grace; Jessie's mom had little to do with her. From what I remember, she hadn't even seen her daughter for
several years. At one point, visitors went into a tirade about how much they despised the mother. Mark, who I knew felt the same way, took all he could of this, came into the chat and firmly ordered everyone to stop. He said that if nothing else, she had given birth to his daughter and he would not sit quietly and watch her be torn apart. This impressed me tremendously and all the hoo-ha stopped.

Mark used to say, "let me have him alone for a half hour. Let me see him die." He wanted to witness Couey's death. But when Couey was sentenced to death, it seemed to be enough for Mark.

After Jessie's body was found, the chatroom was dismantled and I have never 'talked' with Mark again. He went on to go from victim to advocate, and worked hard to get Jessie's Law passed.

John Couey died this week of natural causes. My immediate concern was for Mark. I knew he wanted , at the least, to witness Couey's death. I was concerned that he would be overcome with having been cheated of this. But he wasn't. This is what he said:

This is a long video. It is worth watching in its entirety, however, the first minute of it says it all. This is the Mark Lunsford I had the honor of meeting; a man of quiet dignity.


  1. What an incredible service you did for a web site that was important, and moderating with the mantle of life and death hanging over a situation is a big responsibility.

    Thanks for the video clip. I can tell he is a good soul. It's humbling to see someone walk with grace through such a tragedy on so many levels. I wish more people would learn from someone like him. I'm all choked up by this thanks Beej.

  2. Oh Candy, it was an experience I will never forget and one I will never do again. The day they found Jessica's body, people came in by the droves from all around the world. I just sat back and read post after post after post after post, one piling up on top of the next, tears STREAMING down my face.


Go ahead, you can do it! Just whistle if you want me. You know how to whistle, don't you? You just put your lips together and BLOW....

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