Recently I found the article regarding the troopers who were honored for their courage in the situation last year regarding the I-95 situation last May with convicted murderess, Melissa Ferris.
My name is Tina Duckett. I am the mother of the woman who was murdered at the hands of Melissa Ferris and Jeff Opp in Memphis, which prompted their flight to Florida. After reading this article, I contacted the FHP and was honored enough to speak with Sgt. Fouraker. He had no knowledge of my daughter's case in Memphis, just the case he was involved with in Florida. I would like to pass along how his actions and others, spread to Memphis. In order to do that, I need to share a brief history of my beloved Corie and her life-long struggle with Epilepsy.
Though my daughter was 22, due to her disability she functioned more like a 15 or 16 yr old. She had held countless jobs, from cashiers to waitresses. She always had seizures on the job and a reason was found to let her go. State insurance was continually denied because seizures are classified as "controllable". She attempted to attend college with state assistance, but couldn't function. She tried beauty school, but was asked to leave due to the danger she presented to others with instruments. In desparataion, and in order to pay for her 4 medications which cost over $300+ monthly, she would dance periodically. She could not drive, so she was dependent on others. Unfortunately, one week before she was murdered, she had the misfortune to meet Melissa Ferris and Jeff Opp. Corie never, ever saw the bad in anyone.....someimes I carry guilt over that...wondering what I could have done differently. On the night of March 17th, 2005, Corie left her house with Melissa and Jeff. She intended to ask for a dancing job, so she could purchase her medication. Ironically, as she left, she laughingly told her roommate, if I'm not home by 3, call the police. Little did she know how those words play over and over. Corie never returned home that night, or the next, or the next. All her medication was left at home. She took approximately 10 pills 3 times daily and depended upon this medicine for her life. Countless calls to her cell phone went straight to voice mail. Records pulled by the police showed there was a history of her talking to her roomate daily and me, if not daily, then every other day. Never in her life had she ever disappeared. She did not do drugs....hospital records confirm that. She was just a young lady wanting so depressly to belong, to be normal, to fit in.
Melissa Ferris and Jeff Opp took my daughter to their home. They bound and gagged her. The autoposy report shows that they raped her with a sharp object, similiar to a sword. At some point, they slit her throat. I can only pray that during this brutal act, Corie had a seizure and wasn't aware of what happened to her. They then wrapped her in a blanket and drove her approximately 60 miles away and dumped her body over state line in Panola County, Miss. Ironically, they dumped her in a junkyard 200 yards from Melissa's grandmother's house....a junkyard she played in as a child. After all this, she continued to give the police in Memphis a story about dropping Corie off in a parking lot at a club. She continually lied and misled them. This went on for 2 months while investigators attempted to do their job. Finally enough evidence was found and attempts were made to arrest her. Thus, the flight to Florida.
During this period of time, I lived daily with the knowledge that my first born was out there somewhere. I can't being to tell you the thoughts that run through your head and the way your imagination works on you. Finally, I received a call that Melissa had been aressted and had killed her companion.
There is a saying that a mother knows. I knew on March 18th when Corie did not return home that she was not going too. After Melissa's arrest, she falsely led police on a search where Corie was not found. Finally, 2 wks later when Memphis detectives went to Florida to talk to her, did she reveal where Corie was. I remember receiving that call, at the exact minute. I remember because that is when a third of my heart died.
I tell you all of this, because I want these officers to know what an impact they made in my life. They took a situation that was beyond bizarre and turned it around for the better. For 2 1/2 months, my greatest fear had been not finding my daughter. Just as I gave birth to her, I needed to lay her down to rest. Just as I took care of her health problems throughout her life, I needed to know how she died. I needed to continue being her mother.
Due to the bravery of these officers, they gave me the gift of locating my daughter and laying her to rest. By talking Melissa Ferris down, they gave hope to a family that was being torn apart by grief. As I talked to Sgt. Fouraker, he had no idea how his actions, and those of the other officers invovled, had impacted hundreds here in Memphis. And I do mean hundreds. Corie had over 500 people pay their respects to her during her visitation and funeral. All through life, she attended elipepsy camp every summer. She loved camp because it was one week of her life where she was "normal" because she was with kids like herself. Camp cost $500 per child. Donations raised sent 7 kids to camp that summer in her name. I can think of no greater tribute to Corie than that. She was, and will always continue to be, my native, trusting, loving daughter.... my "baby big girl".
There are no words I can express to describe the feelings and emotions I have towards these fine officers. As I told Sgt. Fouraker, my future mother-in-law lives in Ocala. I hope to visit in the near future. When I do, I would like to personally thank these officers. A handshake seems so impersonal to someone who has impaced your life the way they have mine. It would be my honor to hug each one of them....it would be as if I was hugging a portion of my daughter again.
I realize this is long, but please let these officers know that here in Tennessee, there is a family and a mother who thank God for them everyday and pray that He keeps them and their family safe.
Munford, TN 38058