Bill, Founder and President, authored a book entitled Journey of Hope…From Violence to Healing, which details the May 14, 1985 murder of his grandmother Ruth ‘Nana’ Pelke, a Bible teacher, by four teenage girls.
Paula Cooper who was deemed to be the ringleader was sentenced to die in the electric chair by the state of Indiana. She was fifteen-years-old at the time of the murder. Pelke originally supported the sentence of death for Cooper, but went through a spiritual transformation in 1986 after praying for love and compassion for Paula Cooper and her family.
He became involved in an international crusade on Paula’s behalf and in 1989 after over 2 million people from Italy signed petitions and Pope John Paul II’s request for mercy, Paula was taken off of death row and her sentence commuted to sixty years.
Bill, a retired steelworker, has dedicated his life to working for abolition of the death penalty. He shares his story of forgiveness and healing, and how he came to realize that he did not need to see someone else die in order to heal from his grandmother’s death. He also helps organize Journey tours nationally and abroad. Pelke has traveled to over forty states and ten countries with the Journey of Hope…From Violence to Healing and has told his story over 5000 times.
“Revenge is never, ever the answer”