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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Franciscan St. Francis Weight Loss Center employee to appear on ABC’s Katie Couric show March 25

Misty Wallace shared her story with an Indianapolis
 Star  reporting/photographry team.
Faith, forgiveness and redemption forge unlikely partnership to assist victims

INDIANAPOLIS – Two teenagers’ lives took drastic turns on that balmy October night in 1992 on the city’s southwest side.

Misty Wallace, a sports-active senior at Decatur High School with aspirations to attend college, was using a pay telephone outside a fast-food restaurant. After she hung up she saw a stranger rapidly moving toward her. Keith Blackburn, a high-school dropout, had only one aspiration at the time – to steal Wallace’s car.

Somehow, it took a deadlier twist.

He shot the 18-year-old in the face and left her for dead on the pavement. Wallace’s car had been idling while she was on the phone, but sputtered and died a few moments before Blackburn slipped behind its wheel. He was unable to restart it so he hopped into the passenger side of a waiting car, commandeered by an accomplice, and sped off into the night.

Wallace was hospitalized for several weeks fighting for her life. She later would go on with her life, having a family, earning certification as a medical assistant and joining the staff at Franciscan St. Francis Weight Loss Center. However, gnawing unanswered questions lingered.

Blackburn eventually was arrested, convicted and incarcerated in the state penitentiary. A few years into his sentence, he was guided and converted to Christianity by a cellmate. Nearly nine years after he pulled the trigger, he left prison with a new mission: to enter the seminary and become a chaplain with the Indiana Department of Corrections.

Wallace’s and Blackburn’s paths would cross again. In a random Facebook search nearly two years ago, Wallace located Blackburn. She eventually composed a message to him. And he wrote back.

Then they met. Eventually, the victim found the capacity to forgive her assailant. And his life was further transformed through her forgiveness.

“I went through all kinds of emotions over the past 20 years, until the past two years,” Wallace said. “I, of course, wanted to know -- ‘why me?  I’m still healing, yet I know I am a better person. Keith making his life changes has made it easier, but I was at a point in my life ready to forgive him.”

Wallace, who resides in Plainfield, Ind., and Blackburn now share their stories together in the program, Bridges to Life, designed to help victims work through their pain. The effort also is geared to inmates to understand more personally the impact of their actions.

Misty Wallace and Keith Blackburn recently sat down with Katie Couric (ABC’s “Katie” show) to discuss her experiences 21-year-long odyssey to find answers to that fateful night. The taped interview tentatively is scheduled to air 3 PM (EST), Monday, March 25 on local ABC affiliate, WRTV-6.