Chelsea Huff, my only child, was the young woman who committed suicide in Jones Park on October 5, 2005.
Chelsea lived on the opposite side of the creek, on Purefoy.
Chelsea was brutally raped by a family friend on July 30, 2004. The man, a Chapel Hill resident, was charged with kidnapping and rape. Inspite of injuries, physical evidence and testimony, charges were dismissed because the Orange County DA did not think he could win the case.
From the night of her rape at a local horse farm to the day of her death in Jones Park, Chelsea lived in fear that the rapist would find her and do it again. He is that kind of man. Chelsea put on a brave face and continued to work at Weaver Street Market and take classes at Durham Tech in preparation for a career in nursing. She was never the same, though.
Chelsea's last act was to inscribe these words with a bottle cap, the only instrument she could find, onto the wooden railing: rape, terror, goodbye, freedom and peace.
Those words should have remained as a testament to the failure of Orange County to protect one of its best-loved and admired citizens. Instead, officials had the words rubbed out as if they were ashamed, as if they were dirty, as if they were a lie.
We believed you, Chelsea. We all did: family, friends, co-workers, teachers, deputies, even the assistant DA who had the case dismissed. The only people who did not cherish you were the rapist and his family, the same people who held you in their arms when you were just a baby.
Mr. Huff included a link to a site in her memory. It includes the program for her memorial service at the Eno River Unitarian-Univeralist Church. She was all of 21 years old.