They came to say goodbye, 16 years after she had gone.
Nancy Wilcox would have turned 32 on Wednesday. On that day, she will have been dead as many years as she lived: a suitable milestone for final farewells.Nancy's family and friends gathered Saturday in the chapel at Wasatch Lawns, 3401 S. Highland Drive, to close the brief chapter of her life with song, remembrances and prayer.
Nancy disappeared the first week of October 1974. Police originally thought she was a runaway. Then, as Ted Bundy's terrible pattern of murder and attempted abductions emerged, they feared she was one of his victims.
Bundy confirmed those fears in a 90-minute confession to a Utah detective hours before his execution 18 months ago. News reporters advised the Wilcox family of Bundy's confession.
Crushed, the family turned its efforts to finding Nancy's body, relying on the scant clues Bundy had given. But now that hope, too, is gone.
"The sheriff's office has advised us that the case is closed. The whereabouts of Nancy's earthly remains are known only to her Heavenly Father," said Nancy's father, Herbert G. Wilcox Jr., in the opening moments of the service. "Now we feel the time is right - just before her 32nd birthday - to have this service for her."
The memorial service was brief, featuring an invocation, speaker, song, closing remarks and benediction.
"Nancy has been at peace for 16 years, but there has been turmoil in our minds because we did not know what happened to her until recently," said Robert Carlyle Stephens of the West Valley Utah Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "Now all those who knew and loved Nancy can be at peace and know that she left home happy and died quickly."
Nancy's older brother, David Michael, died from a kidney disease four months after Nancy disappeared. In a 1984 letter to the mother of another Bundy victim, Debi Kent, Constance Mouritsen Wilcox wrote of her two children's deaths: "I compare my feelings in the loss of both of the children. Knowing that we buried (David's) body is sad but peaceful and I have had some wonderful dreams wherein I have talked to him, and I know he is happy.
"I have never had a pleasant or comforting feeling about Nancy. It is a constant pain. Even now when the phone rings on Mother's Day, Christmas or her birthday, for a split second I think she might be calling."
Saturday brought Constance Wilcox her long-awaited hour of comfort as friends traveled hundreds of miles to be with the family, sharing hugs, tears and memories of Nancy.
Stephens called the memorial service "a final act to settle our minds and thoughts and remember her for who she was and how she was rather than what happened to her."
No one mentioned Bundy's name. Stephens referred to him as "one who never will exist throughout all the eternities amongst us," later adding "Nancy will never see who caused her death. He will never see her or her family - even to say he is sorry - nor see any beauty, nor experience any happiness throughout eternity. For what he did, there is no forgiveness."
Nancy did not suffer, Stephens said. Quoting a scripture that those who die in the Lord do not taste death, he surmised: "She was shocked into numbness whereby she was at peace with the Lord. One moment she was happy. Then confused. Then in the presence of her Father in Heaven.
"When Nancy died, so white, so splendid, so fine, so beautiful and so innocent, she was received immediately into the Savior's arms," Stephens said, noting that all those who die violently as Nancy did, pass through the refiner's fire.
Lyle Wall, the man who was the family's bishop when Nancy disappeared, dedicated the Wasatch Lawns site that bears a marker with Nancy's name. He further added, "Whatever location bears Nancy's mortal remains, we ask a blessing upon that site that it might be protected from harm or accident, that the elements will be kind and that thy spirit will abide there also."
Herbert Wilcox closed the service by inviting friends to visit Nancy's marker, "the place that will become the similitude for us of where she lies."