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TV REVIEWS : Victims' Families Show 'Forgiveness'

October 26, 1994|ROBERT KOEHLER

In a rare television hour of moral probity, "From Fury to Forgiveness," a (U.K.) Yorkshire Television documentary produced by Sheldon Himmelfarb and picked up for U.S. broadcast by the Discovery Channel, presents three resoundingly tragic cases of murder--and how relatives of the victims forgave the murderers.

The 1973 kidnaping of Marieta Jaeger's young daughter Susie led the mother on a soulful journey to a kind of empathy with the abducter-killer, David Meierhofer. When Meierhofer called Jaeger exactly a year after the kidnaping to confess, she says that she had already quashed any desire for revenge--the only way, she counsels other victims' relatives, to make oneself better than the killer.

What Jaeger's family felt about her kindness isn't revealed here, but much of Bill Pelke's family thinks he's wrong for not only forgiving Paula Cooper for the brutal murder of Pelke's Bible-teaching grandmother, Ruth, but also campaigning for commuting her death sentence and for the worldwide ban of the death penalty. It's what his grandmother would have wanted, says Pelke, which is what SueZann Bosler says about her father, the Rev. William Bosler, fatally stabbed in front of her.

Bosler's anguish as she recalls the slaying in horrible detail doesn't overcome a deeply Christian belief in turning the other cheek. Himmelfarb's film, though, ignores the inherent virtues of ultimate punishment for ultimate crime. It makes "From Fury to Forgiveness" a virtual anti-death-penalty propaganda work.

* "From Fury to Forgiveness" airs at 10 tonight on the Discovery Channel (with a repeat at 1 a.m.).

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