Forgiveness for a killer
By MICHAEL SNEED email@example.com June 1, 2013 2:26AM
David Biro's mugshot.
Updated: July 3, 2013 6:43AM
The Langert murders . . .
How long does it take to forgive; to absolve the man who slaughtered your pregnant sister and her husband?
How do you touch the hand of the man who pulled the trigger of a .357 Magnum; press the flesh of a New Trier High School kid who wanted to feel what it was like to kill somebody?
For Cook County Assistant Public Defender Jeanne Bishop, whose sister and brother-in-law — Nancy and Richard Langert — were slain by New Trier High School student David Biro in April 1990, forgiveness was “right away.”
But telling him personally was something else.
“I told myself I forgave him and then wiped him off my hands like dirt,” Bishop said.
“I thought forgiving David for what he’d done was enough, but I never thought about communicating with him. I just wanted to separate myself from him. . . leave him in the dust.”
Not long ago, Bishop, a devout Christian, had an epiphany of sorts. “I began realizing I had been waiting all these years for David to apologize to me,” she said.
So several months ago, at the urging of a friend, Bishop decided to begin a reconciliation process with Biro and personally present her forgiveness.
“I wrote him a letter and he responded immediately,” she said, “a 15-page handwritten letter claiming responsibility for the murders — something he had denied during his trial. He apologized to me and my family.”
Last February, they met “face to face,” she said.
“I touched the hand of the man who held the gun that killed my sister and he told me he wished he could undo it all. He was remorseful. It was profoundly moving to see this person I had mythologized. It was good to shake his hand and look him in the eye.
“Someone once told me not forgiving was like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. I needed to do this for God and Nancy and me.
“I’m just beginning this journey of reconciliation with David, but he shed light on some unanswered questions.
“Richard’s death, a shot to the back of the head, seemed like an execution, an assassination. But David explained he shot him that way after going shooting in the woods with his friends who advised him the animals would get away if he didn’t shoot them in the head.
“My sister, who was huddled in a corner, covered her head. . . so he shot her in the abdomen. He left her to die.”
David Biro’s mother died shortly after her son went to prison; and his father has visited his son in prison every two weeks for the past 22 years.
“He is such a lovely man and my heart goes out to him,” said Bishop. “He is in his 80s and told me how happy he was to get his driver’s license renewed recently so he can continue to visit his son. It made me cry. He even gave me coins, quarters, to use to lock up my car keys and belongings during the prison visit. What a wonderful man he is.”
Then she added: “Why didn’t I do this long ago?”
Sneedlings. . .
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