Here’s an interview Terry recently did with KLTV, Channel 7, in Longview, Texas.
by James H. Pence
How do you tell your daughter that her best friend’s family has been murdered?
My cell phone buzzed about halfway through the church service on Sunday morning, March 2, 2008. I recognized the number, a friend from Emory, Texas, but couldn’t understand why he would be calling me on Sunday. I taught a class of homeschoolers at his karate school and assumed that the call had something to do with my class.
Since my homeschool class wouldn’t meet till Tuesday, I decided to return his call later. By the end of the service, my phone showed two more missed calls, both from my friend. I knew that something had to be wrong, so when I had a chance I went out to the foyer and called him back.
“Somebody attacked the Caffey family and burned their house down,” his wife said. “We don’t know the details yet, but some of them were killed.”
I couldn’t process what I was hearing.
Terry Caffey, his wife Penny, and their children were friends of ours. We met when Penny enrolled their daughter, Erin, and their youngest son Tyler in my karate for homeschoolers class. Tyler quit the class after several months, but Erin continued for quite a while and became close friends with my daughter, Charlene.
Charlene spent a lot of time at the Caffeys’ home, and it was one of her favorite places to go. I do a fair amount of speaking, and she was at that age where traveling with Mom and Dad wasn’t the most exciting thing in the world. So whenever my wife, Laurel, and I were on the road, Charlene would stay at the Caffeys.
And even though we lived in Greenville, Texas, about 45 minutes away from their home in Alba, Erin spent quite a few weekends at our place, too. The girls were so close that we invited Erin to go to church camp with us in the summer of 2007.
When we came back from camp, we dropped Erin off at the Caffeys’ home. It was a beautiful little house tucked away in the woods. Laurel and I drank coffee and visited with Terry and Penny for a while before we continued on to our home near Greenville.
That was the last time I was ever in the Caffeys’ house.
Now, less than a year later, as we were driving home from church, Laurel called our friends again to see if they knew any more details. At that point, we didn’t know if anybody had survived.
We wanted to get home before we told Charlene, so Laurel didn’t speak out loud as she relayed the horrible news. As we drove from our church in Rowlett back to Greenville, Laurel wrote down on a church bulletin the names of the family members: Terry, Penny, Erin, Bubba, Tyler.
And then, as our friend relayed the news, Laurel quietly marked an X over Penny’s, Bubba’s and Tyler’s names.
I can’t even begin to describe how I felt as I saw her mark out those names.
We drove the rest of the way home in silence, as I desperately prayed for wisdom.
How was I going to tell Charlene that someone had murdered her best friend’s family?
James H. Pence co-authored the book “Terror by Night” with Terry Caffey. This series of guest blog posts recounts Terry’s story from James’s point of view.