Public Outrage, Private Grief

Bill Ford is the older brother of Ita Ford. He works as a lawyer on Wall Street in New York City. In the past 10 years, he has been instrumental in pushing for an investigation of the murder of his sister and the other three women, and in advocating for the concerns of their families. Ford was interviewed in New York by Joe Nangle, OFM, executive assistant at Sojourners.

-- The Editors


Sojourners: It has been 10 years since your sister Ita and the other three church women were martyred in El Salvador. What was it like for you in the early days of the tragedy?

Bill Ford: My youngest child, John Francis, was born on November 29, 1980. We had brought him home from the hospital the day before we got the first call from [then-president of the Maryknoll Sisters] Melinda Roper. My wife, our other five kids, and I were all in John's room, admiring him, when the call came.

Melinda Roper told us that the women were missing, that we should prepare ourselves for the worst. I was stunned, because you just don't think anything is going to happen to Americans in a foreign country. Obviously that was a very naive view of the world.

One of the first things I did was call Robert White in El Salvador, at the suggestion of Melinda Roper. And I got through to him -- it was the first time in my life that I'd ever spoken to an American ambassador. White told me that there was probably less than a 15 percent chance that the women were still alive.

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