In 1951, Orla and Eva Olesen moved from Denmark to Utah in search of a better life.
For more than 30 years, they found that life in a southeast Provo neighborhood. They raised four children, had plenty of friends, and Orla was a successful painting contractor.However, most of that happiness ended on the night of Feb. 27, 1985, when Douglas Stewart Carter entered their home while Orla and their 15-year-old son, Kim, were away. Carter stabbed Eva 10 times with one of her own kitchen knives and shot her once in the back of the head during a burglary.
While Carter was killing his wife, Olesen was across the street comforting a friend who had just lost his wife to cancer. Kim was bowling with friends. As Carter is being resentenced for the crime this week in 4th District Court, Olesen is reliving the night he found his wife dead on the television room floor.
"Every little bit (of testimony) freshens things in my memory once more," Olesen said.
The period following Eva's murder was probably the most difficult time of his life, Olesen said. Not only had he lost his wife, but he had to fight off rumors that he was her killer. Because police did not name a suspect for almost two months, and because he failed a lie detector test, rumors spread that Olesen was the prime suspect.
"My real true friends came out during those days," he said.
By the time police charged Carter with the crime, most of the damage was done. Kim, a sophomore in high school, suffered the most. The loss of his mother and rumors at school that his father was the killer changed Kim's life forever, Olesen said.
"It changed his direction, it changed his lifestyle and it changed his circle of friends," he said.
Olesen has never communicated with Carter about the murder but believes his wife was killed because Carter was a black man living in a predominantly white community. Had Eva not been killed, she would have easily identified Carter as the burglar. For the same reasons, Olesen believes that if he or Kim would have come home that night while Carter was in the house, they too would have been killed.
"When he went into that house, he knew he was going to commit murder or be stuffed into jail, one of the two," Olesen said.
Even though Carter's drawn-out court battles have brought back memories that he would just as soon forget, Olesen said he is moving on with his life. About three years ago he remarried. He and his wife, Joyce, moved to Springville, and at 71, Olesen still works as a painting contractor.
"I've dealt with it pretty good. I can't do much about it anyway," he said.
As far as whether Carter should get the death penalty or life in prison, Olesen said he doesn't really care. However, he does not like the fact that someone sentenced to life in prison in Utah is eligible for parole.
"I just don't want to see that man back on the streets," Olesen said.