SIOUX FALLS, S.D.— A woman whose 9-year-old daughter was kidnapped, raped and slashed to death in South Dakota 22 years ago is trying to raise money so she can attend the convicted killer's execution.
Tina Curl, who moved to Lake Luzerne, N.Y., shortly after Becky O'Connell's death in May 1990, said she's looking forward to hearing Donald Moeller make a snorting sound and watching him make one last gasp for air.
"He watched my daughter take her last breath. I want to watch him take his last breath," said Curl, 50. "I'm doing this for her and for me."
Curl, who has battled alcoholism and suffered a heart attack and quadruple bypass in May 2003, is on disability. Her husband, Dave Curl, who is not Becky's father, has been out of work for about a year. He also is hoping to attend the execution.
She said the $720 a month they bring in from disability payments doesn't leave enough to fund the 1,400-mile road trip to South Dakota.
Authorities say that Moeller kidnapped the girl from a Sioux Falls convenience store, drove her to a secluded area near the Big Sioux River, then raped and killed her. Her naked body was found the next day. She had been stabbed and her throat was slashed.
Moeller, 60, initially was convicted in 1992, but the state Supreme Court overturned it, ruling that improper evidence was used at trial. He was again convicted and sentenced to die in 1997.
The state Supreme Court affirmed the sentence, and Moeller has lost appeals on both the state and federal levels. In July, a circuit court judge set the execution for between Oct. 28 and Nov. 3, with the exact date and time up to prison officials.
Moeller said through his attorney at the July hearing that he accepts the execution as the consequences of his actions.
Rhonda Springer, a neighbor and friend who has known Tina Curl since they were teenagers, organized a benefit at Glens Falls, N.Y., restaurant, but the event failed to raise enough money. So Springer set up an online PayPal account, opened a fund at Hudson River Community Credit Union and began publicizing it through a Facebook page so Curl can witness Becky's killer put to death.
The fundraising has brought in nearly $900 of the needed $4,000.
"I'm so glad to be helping," Springer said. "I've been waiting for this day, too."
Curl said she doesn't believe Moeller's execution will help her heal, but she said she needs to be there.
"It won't bring me closure. It will bring me relief that he's dead and he'll never get out to do this to anybody else's child," she said. "I know what Becky went through, and I know what I went through as a mother trying to handle it."
Curl in 2010 visited the crime scene to recognize the 20th anniversary of her daughter's killing. She said she broke down and cried when she thought about what happened there.
"It just seemed like a lonely place there," she said. "I was just envisioning her being there and screaming. No, I don't believe anybody could have hurt her."
Curl put up a cross at the site before saying, "Beck, get in the truck, we're going home." She and her husband returned to the site one last time before leaving town.
"It just seemed a little more peaceful there," she said. "I think she came back with me."