Carmen Joy Otto
10 Years Old

August 14, 1965 to June 1, 1976

Carmen Joy Otto from Saginaw, Michigan loved people and life. She thought if you loved enough, you could change the world.

Carmen was very good at art, voice and making people happy. When looking for Carmen in a group, she was the tallest girl with a great smile, laughing brown eyes, flowing dark brown hair and had a crowd of people surrounding her.

Not to be outdone by her older sister, Carmen excelled in school course-work, community activities and won multiple awards for her artwork. I also learned after her death that she, like her sister, had a very high IQ.

Carmen found her “best-friend-for-life,” her cat Cougar, who was given to her when she was three years old. They played, ate and slept together. After she started school, every morning and night, Carmen checked on Cougar; evenings and weekends, they were always together in word, thought and deed.

Cougar was inconsolable at Carmen’s death and had to be “put to sleep.” I could not explain to him that she would not fill our lives with love and sunshine again.


Both of my daughters were very good friends of the neighbor girl who lived next door. The girl Maria was a year younger than Carla and two years older than Carmen. She spent a lot of time with my daughters “sleeping over” and was involved in many of their activities.

Both of Maria’s parents were full-time ministers and were gone a lot. Maria had a brother Brad who was about seven years older than Maria. He had recently returned from six months of National Guard Training.

Brad and his parents had become involved in many family disagreements. He decided he wanted to punish his parents by killing Maria and my daughters. He said in his confession to the police, my daughters’ lifestyle was something he was not: school, church and community activities and both had multiple musical talents of voice, piano, organ and clarinet.

Plans were made at 5PM at Maria’s house in Brad’s presence that Maria would be “sleeping over.” On May 31st, I sent her home to her house at about 7:30PM because both of my daughters had to sing and play that week for school and church programs.

I worked full-time at a local hospital as a Clinical Nurse Educator/Supervisor. While I was at work, Brad came to the house in the pretense of asking to use the phone. Carla let him into the house. Upon entering, Brad pulled the choke-chain of our German Shepherd/Lab dog Chico and made him go outside. He then proceeded to go on a rampage and stabbed both my daughters to death, then set a small fire to cover-up the crime.

Brad was convicted of First-Degree Murder and is serving a Life term in a Michigan prison.

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