COLORADO SPRINGS, CO. – A Colorado Springs couple faced an unthinkable tragedy exactly one year ago, on October 17, 2017.
Melissa and Vincent Murphy's two youngest children were stabbed to death. Vincent was stabbed fighting off their attacker. The attacker was their oldest son, Malik.
With daily visits to the cemetery, the Murphys count the days since their youngest two children, five-year-old Sophia Grace and seven-year-old Noah Kent, were murdered.
Melissa says every day when she wakes up, it feels just like the first day without Noah and Sophia all over again.
Oldest Son Charged with Siblings' Murders
Their oldest son Malik is charged with stabbing his brother and sister to death and stabbing his father. Just this week, Malik entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity.
The crime stunned the Colorado Springs community. It stunned the Murphy family, too, who recall the day before the attack, Monday, October 16, as a normal, enjoyable day.
A Normal Day Turns Tragic
"We kind of did the same routine we usually do," Vincent remembered. "We had dinner. It was a nice night that evening, and Melissa had flowers that she was working on outside, so we were all outside as a family."
Melissa remembers that even Malik came out that evening and played football with his younger siblings.
After a normal evening, they went to bed. Around 12:15 a.m., Sophia got up to go to the bathroom. Melissa remembers tucking her back in bed afterward. "My very last sentence to her was, 'Mommy loves you,'" she said.
Vincent picked up the story, saying, "Shortly after 1:00 a.m., I awoke to the sound of Sophia's voice saying, 'No, Malik. No.' And I got up to go downstairs to check out the sound."
What he found was his two youngest children stabbed to death. Then his son, Malik, turned the knife on Vincent, stabbing him in the neck.
"He Had Done What We Feared He Would Do"
Vincent remembers yelling for help. But some of the yelling, he says, was the realization that Malik "had done what we feared he would do."
For years Vincent and Melissa stood by their son in his battles with mental illness. He'd been in and out of treatment centers for thoughts of violence, but he'd never acted on them. His therapists cleared him to be at home.
Malik is currently being held at the El Pasco County Correctional Center in Colorado Springs. Melissa has been there to see him at least a half dozen times. Vincent has been there as well. But both will never forget the very first time they visited after the deaths of Noah and Sophia.
"It was hard for me. Definitely hard for me," Vincent shared. "By this time, it was a lot pent up, built up.
"Malik told me that he has things he wants to say to me and his dad," Melissa said. "He has a lot he wants to say. He said that he actually sat down with his attorney and told his attorney everything he wanted to say to us, and they told him not to say those things."
"So I remember my advice back to Malik was, 'well, you know Malik, attorneys are going to give you good courtroom advice and there is also your moral advice. And that is going to be different from what they give you because you do owe your dad and I an apology and an explanation."
The Murphys, who are Christians, say their biggest hope and prayer for their son is for his salvation. "I believe in eternity," Melissa said. "Heaven is real. I believe Heaven is real. I believe death is a lie. God is real. So that's what I pray for now is his salvation."
"There are a lot of things that we want in the flesh," Vincent added. "We want answers. We want to feel closure. We want...but we may but get those."
Walking the Road to Forgiveness
Forgiving their son, the Murphys say, is an ongoing battle. "It's a long-term battle," Vincent admitted. "That's most certainly in this case, not an overnight thing, or just a switch that gets turned off and on. That's something we're working through.
Melissa put it this way: "I think it kind of reflects our personal relationship with God; where we are individually in our personal relationship with Christ is how were walking out the road of forgiveness."
And they're walking the forgiveness road together, with every trip to the cemetery. And with every prayer, Melissa records in her journal.
"We don't have to spend our time hating Malik because God is going to vindicate us. And his love will endure forever. I have allowed the truth to comfort me and give me hope," reads one entry.
In writing, Melissa knows Malik's battle – and their family's fight – is more than mental. It's spiritual.
"And there have been days when I have walked away from [the cemetery] with just a little bit better hope. My hope has more confidence," Melissa added. "A little bit more hope in the reality of where Noah and Sophia are. And how real Heaven really is."