December 19, 2015 began as any other “lazy” Saturday for me as I opened my email to slice and dice the content. One email jumped out: Email from CBS News “48 Hours” re: Annabelle Kindig Miglia. The content is self-explanatory though contact information is redacted for the privacy of the sender.
My name is Anthony Venditti and I am a producer with the CBS News program 48 Hours. I’m writing because I’ve been reading about Annabelle Kindig Miglia’s incredible story, and of course I know that you and Annabelle co-wrote “Footsteps Out of the Darkness” together. I would like to speak to her about a series we produce called ‘Live To Tell’, which features people who have survived tragic events who then manage to find a way to take that tragedy and help others, usually through speaking engagements or by working with victim’s advocates or other survivors. If you could give me a call when you get a chance I would greatly appreciate it. My number in New York is ( REDACTED by Joyce Godwin Grubbs).
CBS News- 48 Hours
(Redacted contact info by Joyce Godwin Grubbs)
New York, NY 10019
I put in a call to Anthony Venditti to validate the email and its intent. I did not want Annabelle “blindsided” by the possibilities. She remains a private person and while intent on supporting the “message,” many changes in her life have caused her to keep a tight control on her work and personal life since the book was published in 2012. I left a message for Mr. Venditti.
Within hours we were talking about the book and Annabelle’s story. For an hour and a half we went over the path from Annabelle’s email to me to ask me to write the book, to the book signing in Boulder, Colorado, a mere 10 months later. This of course had been Annabelle’s goal, to produce the book by the 40th Anniversary celebration of MESA (Moving to End Sexual Assault) thus her search for an author who would take on such a time challenge, and the difficulty of the content. This was the organization that came into being in 1972 to honor both Annabelle and Jessica Schaffner (her friend who was abducted with her, but did not survive the brutal gun shots in the snow banks of Sunshine Canyon while the two girls were hand-cuffed together. It was Annabelle’s 11th birthday, and Jessica was also 11.) MESA was among the first five victim services organizations in the nation and is now a premier model for such organizations.
After the initial call there was a flurry of emails back and forth as I tried to reach Annabelle. Her response was what I call, “typical Annabelle”. Laid back and practical questions in a quiet and measured pace. It had been like that during the writing of the book. Our method was to have her send me a written sequence of the happenings, and then I would create a flow that told the story to the reader without “hype or grizzly details”. Hundreds of hours of phone interviews between the two of us, but choosing to never skype. What surprised Anthony Venditti and many readers, was that Annabelle and I never met until the actual book signing in Boulder.
The picture above was the very first time that Annabelle and I met face to face. Hotel Boulderado at the 40th Anniversary of MESA. Overflow audience and stayed beyond the signing time to 10:30 at night to get all the books signed.* Read the blog post RIDDLE ME THIS: WHAT DO BOOK SIGNING, BOULDER CO, AND BELATED, ALL HAVE IN COMMON?
The process to pitch the idea of featuring Annabelle’s story for the “Live to Tell” was to have it go through the main body of producers and “higher-ups” for vetting. Meanwhile all information, pictures and updates were sent to Anthony and he honed them into a formal presentation.
Despite the overwhelming enthusiasm of our vested producer, Anthony Venditti, the final decision was that it did not fit the criteria for the Live to Tell segments. Major factors in the decision included the fact that is was now a 42 year old case, thus challenging relevancy. It was also thought to be a challenge to inspire the investment sponsors that would be needed to support the show.
In her quiet, un-assuming voice, she repeated the reasons to me for CBS declining. She was okay with that as she felt it was an honor to know that it had drawn the attention of a prestigious producer, and his animated and enthusiastic endorsement and efforts. It meant the “message” was still moving those who heard it.
I will never forget the enthusiasm, animated conversation, and efforts of Anthony Venditti. His voice still resonates in my mind as does his laughter and his excited questions and hopes. BUT THE TAKEAWAY IS THIS. While it did not fit the venue of CBS for the 48 Hours, “Live to Tell” there may well be a show “down-the-line” somewhere, that will hear of the case and have an appropriate setting for it. If so, well and good. But at this time we are satisfied to have her case validated, to know that Footsteps Out of Darkness is resonating with those who learn of it. Our thanks to Producer Anthony Venditti for his interest, efforts, time and caring. What more could one ask for, than that this story inspired such a man and he acted on his enthusiasm?
ANNABELLE’S STORY AND LIFE REMAIN RELEVANT TODAY
- She has been active on behalf of Jessica’s law and was a voice for change at the Colorado legislature when they finally passed a law even tougher than Jessica’s to contain predators.
- She continues to inspire law enforcement, prosecutors, judicial officials, victims, survivors, and advocates at workshops including an overflow crowd at an annual COVA Conference.
- She remains a role-model for young victims everywhere. At age 11, law enforcement credits Annabelle Kindig with “bringing down her perpetrator” in just hours, by her un-canny sense of immediate recall of every detail of him and the RV he used to abduct the two girls. Though critically wounded with gun shots which would require years of surgery to correct, she dragged her friend through sleet and deep snow to a 40 degree embankment to a road. The two were handcuffed together, and Jessica was dead. 9:30 at night in deep snow she finally freed herself and climbed the embankment to flag down a stranger for help. SHE NEVER GAVE UP.
- Her message is being read and carried forward by others today.
- Caitlin Steimle of Davenport, Iowa will carry the story to the National Speech and Debate competitions June 16-17, 2016 in Salt Lake City. She will be presenting her original oration created from Footsteps Out of Darkness .