INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - Years after being shot in the face, a victim of a crime turned to Facebook to find the man who shot her. Neither realized that it would lead to forgiveness.
Misty Wallace was a pretty normal 18-year-old. The high school senior enjoyed spending time with her boyfriend and was involved in sports at Decatur Central High School. She planned to go to college on a scholarship.
Her life changed on a chance encounter on Oct. 18, 1992. That night, she stopped to use a pay phone at a south side Indianapolis fast food restaurant.
"As soon as I hung the phone up, I turned around and someone was walking towards me," Misty recalled about what happened to her that night.
She didn't know it at the time, but the teenager who was approaching her saw that she'd left her car running and wanted to steal it.
He was Keith Blackburn, a teenager whose life had been following a different path than Misty's. The next few minutes happened quickly for both.
"I said, ‘How long you gonna be?'" Blackburn recalled about that night. "In my mind, she was a witness."
"I didn't say anything and the next thing I knew I was face down on the ground," Wallace said.
"I intended to shoot," Blackburn said. "I intended to kill."
He shot her point blank in the face.
"I could not move. I was face down in and out," Wallace recalled. "I didn't know I was shot. I thought he'd punched me until I couldn't move my body. All I could see was blood."
Witnesses said she was lying underneath the front tire of her car. All she could hear were ringing noises in her ears.
"Where her body fell, if that car would have started it would have been a murder," Blackburn said.
Fortunately, the car's engine had died. Blackburn tried to start it, but couldn't. So, he ran off without it.
Wallace was rushed to the hospital. She was shot in the cheek and the bullet lodged in her neck. She wasn't expected to make it out of surgery.
"My family was brought in to say goodbye," she recalled. "I couldn't talk to them. I couldn't tell them I loved them before I went into surgery and that was the hardest thing."
She spent more than a month in the hospital recovering from her injuries.
It took six weeks before police arrested Blackburn for shooting Misty. The day he was arrested, she even saw him passing on the street and recognized him immediately. She called police who told her they were waiting for him at his apartment. He was taken into custody, found guilty and sentenced to 20 years in prison.
"I lived with a lot of anger and a lot of hate," Wallace said about the years following her attack.
It took 18 years of that anger before Wallace simply Googled her attacker's name. Like many victims, she wanted answers.
"I wanted to know why," Wallace said. "Why did you pick me?"
She was shocked when she learned that the teenage boy who left her for dead and went to prison for it is now a chaplain for the Indiana Department of Corrections. His efforts with prisoners were even honored by the governor.
Another six months passed before she decided she wanted to know even more.
"I looked him up on Facebook and found him," she said.
It took her days to compose a note to him.
He responded. They eventually met.
In November 2012, Misty Wallace and Keith Blackburn sat together telling their story to inmates at Miami Correctional Facility. The talk is part of a program called Bridges to Life, an effort to help victims get through the pain, understand the crime and perhaps forgive.
"For all of these years I have been attempting to put that bullet back in the gun but I could never take away the pain; I could never take away the hurt or harm I inflicted," Blackburn shared. "Twenty years ago, I did what she did not deserve. Two years ago she gave me what I did not deserve. She said, ‘I forgive you. I forgive you.' How can she forgive me? I struggled with forgiving myself."
For Wallace and Blackburn, forgiveness has given them a new life.
"For me, forgiveness now has a face and it's beautiful," Blackburn said. "It goes beyond any words. My life is transformed every moment because of what she has freely given me. By God's grace and Misty's forgiveness, I'm humbled."
"I wake up every day and I feel much better," Wallace said about her life now. "I didn't have to know why. Really what I needed to hear was, ‘I'm sorry.'"
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