Susan Lynn Van Orden
16 Years Old

September 13, 1977 to November 25, 1993

Susan Lynn Van Orden (Thumper), of Karnack, Texas, was a beautiful girl who was full of life. Susan used to say, "I love life, and live loves me." Susan had a part-time job she enjoyed, especially on paydays! She was a junior at Karnack High School and had been nominated for Who's Who National Honor Student a couple months before her murder. She never knew she was selected as one of the nation's top 15 percent of students. Susan would have graduated with honors in May of 1995. The state of Texas and Karnack High School presented Susan's family with her diploma, cap and gown on what would have been her graduation. Susan believed in higher education, and had already been accepted to several colleges.

As a little girl, Susan was very active in sports and played soccer and basketball and was the Wyoming State Archery PeeWee Division champion in 1982. Susan was always cheerful, but she could also be stubborn and naughty at times. Her pastor said it best about Susan: "She was a pest, but a wonderful pest, one anyone would be proud to have in their family. A lovely day outside, that was Susan."

At age 14, after a classmate's murder, Susan planned her own funeral arrangements. In school, Susan was active in FFA, FHA and was on the yearbook staff. She was very outgoing and always had time to listen to her friends' problems. Susan had a very forgiving nature, even to one of her killers who had assaulted her three years earlier. She held no grudges, just love. Susan was touched by God's own hands at birth and blessed by the Virgin Mary. She knew the true meaning of God. When she was little, she prayed to God asking him to have her brother, Victor, wait for her to grow up so she could marry him. Susan and her brother had a very special bond that even death cannot conquer. How we miss our beloved Susan. Our lovely, sweet little girl who never got a chance to grow up. We will love you, forever.

CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE MURDER

On Thanksgiving night, November 25, 1993, 16-year-old Susan Lynn (Thumper) Van Orden of Karnack, Texas, was murdered - the victim of a carjacking. There had been an ice storm and it was cold, wet and miserable outside. The killers, a neighbor of Susan's and two of his friends, had planned the murder for days and went through with their plans solely for the purpose of obtaining transportation to California, where they wanted to join up with a gang. They had been hanging out where Susan worked for several nights prior to the murder and had planted a rifle under a nearby dumpster. Susan gave the boys a ride after she got off work. When they reached Port Caddo Street, they put the rifle to Susan's head and drove to a secluded area. They fired the rifle at her several times but it misfired before discharging a bullet that entered her elbow and lodged in her shoulder rendering her arm useless. As Susan begged for her life, the killers tried again to shoot her, but the rifle continued to misfire. In desperation, the killers decided to use the rifle as a baseball bat. Susan was beaten so severely that the stock had broken off and pieces of wood and a spring were found imbedded in Susan's skull. They left her brains laying in the autumn leaves. When the killers moved Susan's body to hide it from view, she groaned so they kicked her and beat her some more. The autopsy report stated that Susan had sustained fatal blows to her kidney, spleen, stomach and liver, and several ribs were broken and had punctured her lungs. As the killers drove off in Susan's car, one of them stated, "I killed the bitch."

Kendrick Allen, 17, Torvos Simpson, 16; and Jermon Clark, 15; were convicted of carjacking resulting in the death of the owner. Allen and Simpson received life sentences and Clark received a 45 year sentence. All three received an additional mandatory five years for the use of a gun in the commission of a crime.

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Susan Van Orden