Archive for November, 2007|Monthly archive page

“I love you, Mommy.”

Michelle and Cassidy

Additional home movies: Michelle Young and daughter Cassidy at MacArthur Airport Michelle Young and daughter Cassidy with toy Jeep Michelle Young and daughter Cassidy on her Second Birthday


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It may just prove that I’m crazy, but I’ve decided to give this a go and see how it works out.

If nothing else, it’ll be a learning experience. Y’all behave now.

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the ladybug story

While it may seem trite to draw comparisons between the murder cases of Michelle Young and Laci Peterson, the similarities that continue to pop up make it impossible not to do so. The obvious parallels between the two young women and their life circumstances, as well as the way in which their mothers have publicly handled their loss, are tangible in comparison to the ethereal nature of the following annecdotes.Sharon Rocha shares the story of how Stanislaus County prosecutors saw the presence of ladybugs as a sign from Laci that all was well:

“Listen to this, said Laci’s friend, brushing some strands of blond hair from her face. She was one of several of Laci’s girlfriends visiting her gravesite with me. It was a beautiful day, perfect for reminiscing about Laci, and at some point Stacey remembered what has since become known as “the ladybug story.” Since it involved the prosecution, she was surprised I hadn’t heard it, and proceeded to tell me.

Dave Harris was the first person to notice something. It was summer, and at the time he was going through Laci’s photo albums, searching for images that might have an emotional impact in the courtroom. He realized from things he saw in various pictures that Laci had a fondness for ladybugs. She did, too – sunflowers, dragonflies, and ladybugs. A couple months later, as the prosecution was preparing for the closing statement, Dave began noticing ladybugs showing up on his sleeve, in his car, on the bushes where he walked, all around him. It happened too often to be a coincidence, he thought, but when he told his wife, she looked at him as if he’d lost his mind.

He continued to see them, though. One day he was in court, and things weren’t going well. He was feeling a little down. But then he spotted a ladybug fluttering around the defense table. He watched it land on a book in front of Geragos. Dave was transfixed by it. As he later told me, they were in a courtroom with no windows, on the second floor of a building. The nearest door leading outside was on the opposite end of the building. The likelihood of this thing just flying in were slim to none.

He chuckled. Rick and Birgit looked at him the way his wife had, like he was insane. At the break, he told them about the ladybugs. While he thought they were a sign that Laci was watching over them, he kept that to himself and merely said they were good luck. Rick and Birgit dismissed his ladybug theory as nonsense. However, pretty soon they started to notice ladybugs, too, and then they sheepishly mentioned it to Dave. He still didn’t tell them his Laci theory, but he reiterated that they had nothing to worry about as long as they were seeing ladybugs.

One day in mid-October, as Rick worked on his closing statement in his hotel room, he saw a ladybug on the outside of his window screen. At first he didn’t pay attention to it, but the ladybug seemed to be watching him as he worked. So he stared back, smiling, as he remembered Dave’s story. Later, he told Birgit and Dave about his sighting and they were amused.

I have it on good authority that there were no ladybug sightings during jury deliberations, which lasted just under seven full days, and from what I gathered no one was thinking about ladybugs on Friday, November 12, the day the verdict came back. That was understandable. Rick, Dave, and Birgit all had plenty of important things on their minds that morning when they got a phone call summoning them to the courthouse. They thought they were needed to clarify questions from the jurors, something they’d been doing regularly. They didn’t expect a verdict.

But then as Birgit finished getting dressed, she went over to her hotel room window and saw her new favorite red-and-black winged insect – on the inside. Actually, the ladybug was between the glass and the screen. It was a strange place to see one and almost impossible to imagine how it got there. Stranger still was the timing. For some reason, Craig Grogan knocked on her door and she showed him. I don’t know how, but by this time Craig also knew about the ladybugs, and he took it as a very good sign. Right before leaving, she called Rick and Dave with the news, and afterward, she later told me, all of them knew it was going to be a good day.

[For Laci by Sharon Rocha, pp. 303-304]


In the following account, WRAL’s Amanda Lamb relates the sense of comfort that ladybugs provide to Michelle’s loved ones while they await justice.

Linda says prayer has helped her cope and something else, something unlikely – ladybugs. That’s right, I said ladybugs.

It wasn’t like she came right out and told me about it. I noticed the ladybug pin, the ladybug necklace and the ladybug earrings. I commented on them.

That’s when she told me about what they had meant to her since her daughter’s death.

First of all, Michelle apparently loved ladybugs and was particularly fond of a ladybug mirror her mother has.

But Linda Fisher noticed something strange since her daughter’s death – ladybugs seem to be everywhere she is Sometimes, she sees three, four or five at a time, inside, outside, wherever there is talk of Michelle.

Linda’s sister – Michelle’s aunt – recently took a trip to Italy – one that Michelle had planned to attend prior to her death. They went to a town that Michelle had always wanted to go. All of a sudden, her aunt looked down and saw a ladybug.

She was not a believer, now she is.

The entire family has ladybug stories from the past year, hence Linda’s fondness for ladybug jewelry and all things emblazoned with ladybugs.

It is a small sign of life, but something she holds onto dearly in her profound grief and loss. The ladybugs make her grin, and in turn, make her think of her beautiful daughter’s bright smile. They are a small comfort when there is no real comfort to be had for a mother who loses a child.

As we finished the interview with Linda Fisher Thursday at her sister’s home, she suddenly called out “Ladybug!” I looked over at the window next to her, and low and behold, there it was, a ladybug making its way across the glass.

[Amanda Lamb, “Signs of Life”, Dispatches from a Reporter’s Notebook,]


As for me, I choose to believe that the ladybugs bode well for resolution in the investigation of Michelle’s murder. And I’m grateful to Linda Fisher and Sharon Rocha for sharing their stories, to Amanda Lamb for taking notice, and to WRAL for providing a venue. If you haven’t already done so, I urge you to watch Amanda Lamb’s exclusive interview with Linda Fisher. Click the image below to access WRAL’s video player.

I see Michelle in her mother’s eyes. Cassidy should be given the opportunity to see her own mommy in and through her grandma’s eyes.