Kevin Boot is getting off lucky.
The mandatory prison sentence of life without parole he’s about to receive should include an additional punishment. Every night, before Boot drifts off to sleep in his cramped cage, he should have to listen to “Daughter of the City.”
Spokane singer Beth Ann Long wrote this soul-stirring song to keep alive the memory of Felicia Reese, the sweet spirit Boot snuffed out one winter’s day in a senseless act of cold murder.
Maybe in time - as Boot’s days drag into hopeless years - the song’s message would let him glimpse the enormity of what he did on Dec. 27, 1994.
Only a stone wouldn’t eventually react to these lyrics:
“Nobody can silence, the song within your heart.
“Though the cruelest violence, has torn us worlds apart.
“Your song lives on. Your laughter, too.
“Daughter of the City. We’ll remember you.”
There were plenty of tears Sunday night when Long, 36, sang her powerful tribute to over 400 people at The Met. A friend of the slain woman, Long held the concert as a coming out party for her CD, “Into the Morning Light.”
That album showcases other inspirational songs written by Long, who has been around the Spokane music scene since she was 13. “Daughter of the City” is available separately on tape.
The folk-oriented guitar picker has a powerful, throaty voice a la Linda Ronstadt. Long hopes exposure through this independently produced CD will help her crack the musical big leagues after years of singing for weddings, clubs, radio commercials and performing the national anthem at ballgames.
Whatever success Long achieves, her song to the 22-year-old victim is a wonderful tribute that should help this city’s healing. Every radio station in the city should get a copy and play it.
Few murders have affected Spokane like Reese’s.
The young woman was attending a Bible conference in downtown Spokane when she was kidnapped in a hotel parking lot. Boot’s cousin, Jerry, goes on trial next month for his alleged part in the crime.
A devout Christian, Reese died six months from her wedding day. Testimony in Boot’s trial revealed she was singing hymns moments before being shot three times in the face.
Long is a member of Harvest Christian Fellowship, the same church Reese attended. She remembers Reese as the effervescent young woman who sang behind her in the choir.
“She was just a bubble,” says Long. “Always laughing and enjoying life.”
In the days following her murder, Reese’s loved ones made an emotional plea to keep her memory alive. “Don’t Forget Felicia” was painted on “The Wall,” the graffiti-covered railroad abutment that faces Monroe Street Bridge traffic.
That sign inspired Long as she was driving back from a memorial service for Reese. “The minute I got home, I locked myself in my bedroom and started pounding out the song,” she says. “I didn’t come out until it was finished.”
The phrase, “Daughter of the City,” Long explains, symbolizes that the loss is shared by everyone.
Long’s own sorrows gave her the depth to write the song. This mother of three boys survived thyroid cancer in the mid-1980s, delivered a stillborn girl in 1993, lost a good friend to suicide and was recovering from a miscarriage about the time Reese was killed.
“I was just about a wreck for nine years,” she says. “But it’s a fact of life. There are those who have grieved and those who will.”
She laughs. “When things like that happen, I write songs.”
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo
MEMO: Long’s CD, “Into the Light,” is sold in Spokane Christian bookstores. The single, “Daughter of the City,” can be ordered for $4 by writing W25 Fifth, Spokane 99204.