I have written hundreds of articles over the years. This is by far the hardest article I have ever written.
How do you convey the heartache and anguish a parent feels when their child is murdered? As a mom, it is difficult to comprehend and my heart literally breaks for Vicky and Bill Neil whose 17-year-old daughter was murdered in Redmond last month. I am honored that they have allowed me to write about this painful ordeal and it is my hope that through doing this article, others will be helped through their loss. I also hope that they will gain additional support from the public by sharing their story.
I have known Vicky for the past ten years. I first met her while shopping in her store, Tuxedo’s Antique Mall, in Duvall. Tuxedo’s has been a long-time local family favorite of ours. Vicky recently had to close her business. She will re-open it in September. It will still be in Duvall but will be a “mini version” of Tuxedo’s and will be in a new location on Main Street, next to CC’s Espresso 2.0 and Country Collections.
I recently met with Vicky to talk to her about the loss of her daughter and the support she and Bill have been receiving from the Duvall community. She told me that they are literally overwhelmed by the outpouring of heartfelt support from the Duvall community. They have learned what a treasure it is to be part of a small, tight-knit community during a crisis. A gofundme account was set up for Vicky and Bill at www.gofundme.com to help pay for medical bills incurred for Cara.
Cara was stabbed in the heart in a random act of violence on July 18th. She survived the attack and underwent heart surgery. However, several days after her surgery, Vicky and Bill were told that Cara had suffered a catastrophic brain injury and the decision was made to take her off life support in order to ensure that Cara’s organs could be procured and donated.
There have been many different versions of what happened the night Cara was stabbed outside of SoulFood CoffeeHouse. Vicky and Bill don’t know every detail and probably never will. What they do know is that at only 90 lbs, Cara had a giant heart, was very feisty and thought she was invincible. She was fondly known by her friends as Care Bear. She would stick up for anyone if someone was trying to hurt them.
Regardless of the details of that night, in the end, they lost their only daughter whom they adopted from Russia when she was just a toddler. They will never again get to see their daughter. It is a loss that they are still trying to comprehend. They are still in shock and will continue to realize the full weight of their loss for many years to come.
Vicky wants people to know that SoulFood CoffeeHouse was one of Cara’s favorite places to hang out and has always been impressed with the support and compassion that SoulFood offers to their adult and teenage customers.
There are many troubled teens that have gotten their lives back on track because of the care and support they have received from the staff at SoulFood. Aaron, the manager, was one of the first responders the night Cara was stabbed. The family is forever grateful to him for all that he did for Cara that night. They are also grateful for the Celebration of Life organized and hosted by SoulFood held in honor of Cara. Over 100 people came out to show their support and remember the spunky, kind-hearted 17- year-old.
One of the most amazing things that has taken place since Cara’s death was the fact that she was able to donate four of her organs to four separate families in Washington. Harborview connected Vicky and Bill with Life Center NW which is a local non-profit organ procurement organization.
Vicky and Bill are so grateful for the incredible support and compassion they received from Life Center NW. They stood by them through the entire two-day process. In a truly remarkable coincidence, the two different representatives that they worked with, on two separate days, were BOTH named Cara. Vicky doesn’t think this was a coincidence at all, she knows that Cara, her Care Bear, was taking care of her mom, even after she was gone.
During the donation process, Life Center gave Vicky and Bill a quilt. They helped put an imprint of Cara’s hand on the quilt with fabric paint. They also made a handprint of Vicky’s hand with Cara’s.
Organ and tissue donation is one of the greatest gifts a person can give. Knowing that their loved one has left a lasting legacy of hope and healing can provide comfort and solace to donor families.
There are lots of ways that the Duvall community is supporting the Neil family. Duvall Random Acts of Kindness has placed 21 jars in local businesses to collect money to support Vicky and Bill. The Duvall Tavern is selling tickets for a raffle and Match Coffee and Wine will be hosting an auction in September.
Financially supporting Vicky and Bill won’t bring Cara back, it will however, lessen their financial burden.
They are humbled and grateful for your support.
Cards & donations for Vicky & Bill can be dropped off at Country Collections in Duvall where Vicky is working a few hours a week until her store re-opens. Donations can also be deposited in the Vicky Neil account at the Duvall Bank of America. There is also an online fund at www.gofundme.com. If you have Microsoft Matching send checks to Rotary Foundation in Duvall, PO Box 1642, Duvall, WA. 98019