Edie Happe has vigilantly followed the case of Jason Thompson, 25,
who police say killed Roberta.
Thompson's case has dragged on for two years, and now is in the
pretrial phase. Nearly every month, he is in court for an appearance.
The next court date is a pretrial conference scheduled for Monday.
"Up till now, it's [the legal process] been kind of a date to set
a date to set a date," Happe said. "It's been frustrating, but I've
gotten used to it."
Happe has become intimately familiar with the judicial process.
She now knows different criminal cases call for different time
frames. The process for Thompson's trial is especially tedious
because he ultimately could end up with the death penalty.
"They never give us false hope. They're very realistic," Happe
said of the lawyers handling the case. "Both sides want to make sure
everything is done right, because it's the death penalty."
Roberta Happe was working at the Frank D. Lanterman Regional
Center in Los Angeles when Thompson reportedly carjacked her and
forced her to drive with him to an ATM. Police believe Thompson made
her withdraw $400 from her account, then raped and killed her. Culver
City detectives tracked him down in Michigan.
Edie Happe was used to seeing her daughter at least once a week.
She remembers that Roberta hadn't come to the house the weekend
before she was killed because she had gone away for the weekend with
her boyfriend, though Happe believed he was more like her daughter's
fiance. The Tuesday before Roberta Happe's death, her father had gone
to her apartment to help her with her computer.
"Being an only child, we were constantly in her life," Happe said,
"and she was always in our lives.
"Most people don't think its right to bring up someone who's
passed, or died, or murdered," Happe continued. "But [we] want you to
bring up that person, even though it brings sadness, just to talk
about loved ones."
But always, there's the pain.
"I deal with it by trying to help other people deal with it. I try
to help other people dealing with me," Happe said. "I take each day
at a time. Some days are better than others."
But when Happe stopped to think about how life has changed since
Roberta's death, her breath caught in her throat and tears welled up
in her eyes.
"I love the word 'verklempt.' 'Saturday Night Live' used to use it
all the time, when they impersonated Barbra Streisand," Happe said.
Demonstrating with a hand on her chest, Happe said, "[The actor]
would stop, sniff, and say, 'I'm sorry, I'm a little verklempt ...
OK, I'm OK now.'"
Losing her daughter was losing a friend and companion.
"But I circumvent the loss by looking at all the good times, all
the fun we had," Happe said. "She had a very full life."
Life goes on, she said, adding that she believes many of her
daughter's friends feel the same way.
"You have a verklempt moment," Happe said, dabbing at her eyes and
sniffing, "You bat your eyes and move on."