This is the second installment in the story “Death of a minister’s daughter” published in the Oct. 3 Chronicle.
Murder of a minister’s daughter – Part 2
By Cary Rosenbaum
Moving to Gresham
Upon Sandy’s death, the Bauer family and Sandy’s son, Nick Adams, planned their move back to Oregon.
“Everyone pretty much packed up and left,” he said.
The family no longer felt safe in Okanogan County, and the 24-year-old Adams drove his mother’s body to Gresham using her Ford F150 with the casket in the back.
“I can’t even remember the trip,” he said. “It was all a blur.”
Sandy was buried days later in Gresham.
“We felt it was appropriate,” Nick said. “It was, at the time. Being here, it was hard to bury her here (in Omak) with everyone leaving.”
For the 14 years, the death has taken its toll on the family, daughter-in-law Joyce Adams said.
“We were a very tight and close family,” she said. “The day she died, it shattered all our lives.”
Family members began locking their car and house doors religiously, and were spooked when people would be walking behind them, Mrs. Adams said.
“We were living in fear,” she added.
By August of 1998, Nick had moved the last of the family to Gresham.
“I was the last one of the family to leave,” he said. “The houses sold quick.”
Lillian Bauer sold the building she and Art owned – and where their daughter had been murdered - for $70,000 to Siltman in 1998.
“After Sandy got killed, it was so hard on her mother,” Siltman said. “Lillian decided to move down to by Portland, where they lived before.
“I told her, I said, ‘I want to help you, name your price and I’ll buy your building from you.’ Take what you want and don’t worry about what you don’t want.”
Siltman said shortly thereafter she had two of her grandsons remove about 2 square feet of rug that was stained with Sandy’s blood.
A family of sixes
Art Bauer died March 4, 2004 – two days from the six-year mark from the day his daughter died.
The family did its best to keep the 86-year-old out of a nursing home. But without the constant help he needed, there was no other alternative, Adams said.
He suffered through debilitating diabetes for more than a decade, and dementia was setting in.
But the family said he was as clear as ever the day he passed away.
“He was so sharp that day,” great-granddaughter Ambrosa Adams said. “Usually, he would call me by someone else’s name. But that day, he called me by my name.”
Family members said that before he died, Art said he saw his daughter Sandy standing beside him.
For years, he had yearned for new information regarding his daughter’s death.
He died without an answer.
“He was hoping he would have got closure before he passed away,” Joyce Adams said. “But he knows the truth, now. He’s with her.”
While his death seemed coincidental, to the family the month and year also had symbolization.
“We’re kind of a family of sixes,” Nick said. “I’m six years apart from my brother. He’s six years apart from my cousin. You see it all over the place in our family.”
In addition, Sandy’s granddaughter, Ambrosa, was just 6 years old when the murder occurred.
The family waited to tell Lillian, now in her early 90s, about the Sept.26 verdict, Nick said.
“She’s always said she just wanted it all done before she left,” he said. “I can’t call her for this one. This has to be in person.”
For the rest of the family, though, the healing process can finally begin.
“Life’s been on hold,” Christine Adams said, regarding awaiting news of her mother-in-law’s murderer. “And it’s been pretty empty, and pretty stressful.”
One night in Omak changed the dynamic of a local family forever. They had to back-track in their history to the last place that was safe, where shades of the family tree remained.
“It kind of stunk being from the area and having to live (in fear),” Nick Adams said.
But an evening watching Kelly Small held accountable for the murder brought the family together in more ways than one.