The Story Of Gary and Deena Christian

By: Gordon Boyd
By: Gordon Boyd

Knoxville (WVLT) -- They know they'll wait almost a year for the first of the accused killers to go to trial.

But in the five and a half months since their daughter's murder, Gary and Deena Christian have found that grief and justice come in their own time and on their own terms.

"They were going to get a movie," said Gary Christian, father of Channon Christian. "Watch a movie and eat, and then they were going get a movie and come over here, and I said all right be careful, I love you, and that's the last thing she said to me.”

Those are the words, we've read in the police reports and news stories that detail the deaths of Channon Christian and Chris Newsom.

What Gary and Deena Christian hadn't discussed was their own search, when it became clear everything was wrong.

"We found it, the 4-Runner, she wasn't in it," Gary said. "I didn't know at the time that she was four houses down from me."

That reality, of a daughter and her boyfriend, carjacked, raped, robbed and murdered is one they've struggled to grasp.

For the parents, it was much easier to deal with the search for suspects.

"It's a miracle," Gary said. "They don't catch people like this that quick."

It then became difficult confronting them in court, once caught.

"We do it because we have to do it for her," Deena Christian said.

"All I see is no different than hunting back in East Texas and sitting in a deer stand and looking out and seeing a pack of wild dogs," Gary said. "They just bring them in, one at a time."

They are confrontations that reporters have called tense.

"That's pure hate," Gary said. "That ain't tense."

"I mean they took our baby girl," Deena said, "what could you expect?"

Channon's parents would hope for life sentences, but they would prefer the death penalty.

"That's the closest thing I'll ever get to living up to my promise that I made my daughter," Gary said.

Whatever speculators may claim, they're firm when they say its not it's not black or white.

"I don't think this started out to have anything to do with race," Deena said. "They were just at the wrong place at the wrong time."

"Wild animals come in lots of different colors," Gary said, "the end result is that they are still wild animals."

In pictures they have memories of a smile to light up a room.

They have flowers from her funeral, hundreds of cards, from as far as Switzerland and Chile and a quilt, made of all their daughters T-shirts.

The Gary and Deena Christian even have a scrapbook that Channon's friends made for her 22nd birthday, just three Sundays ago.

"Everybody that knew her has got a big hole in them where she was," Gary said.

Deena Christian says her first talk with Chris Newsom's parents was to tell them that their son was missing. She and her husband say the murders have made them less secure.

Gary believes they may have made him meaner. To those groups who'd use this case to talk about racially motivated crimes, Gary Christian has but four words, "It ain't about you."


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