Written by Danielle Wagner, Anchor/Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
WATERLOO (KWWL) -
July 4, 1994 is the day Jonna Williams' life changed forever. At just 13 years old, Williams was riding her bike in Waterloo when she was kidnapped and sexually assaulted.
A few days later, authorities charged then 32-year-old Dale Viers with the crimes. He was convicted in March of 1995 and in May of 1995 he was sentenced to life in prison.
It was a normal July day when Jonna Williams was abducted. She got permission from her parents and was riding her bicycle to meet a friend for ice cream. Along the way, a man asked her for directions. When he said he couldn't hear her, Jonna went closer. He grabbed her off her bike.
After taking Jonna to a secluded spot, assaulting her and threatening to kill her, the kidnapper ended up letting her go just a couple hours later.
Jonna now speaks out for victims.
"I don't want what happened to me to go in vain and have what happened to me and nothing comes of it. I want something truly good to come of it," said Jonna Williams.
18 years later, Williams speaks out on behalf of victims and spreads a message she calls "Know Your Impact."
"I just try to keep the message out there to know your impact. Everything you do and say has an impact on another person. This one event, in the grand scheme, these few moments in my life transformed me completely," said Williams.
Williams will never forget what happened to her. But, she said she forgives Dale Viers.
"I had to let go. I have to learn to live with it and go on with my life," she said.
"She has taken something that was a horrible experience and tried to make a positive out of it, and that's easier said than done. So she's a remarkable woman," said Tom Ferguson, who prosecuted the case.
The case of the two missing Evansdale girls really hits home for Williams since she was taken from her bike. In this age of social media, Williams really hopes people think twice before posting any negative comments about the victims, the victim's families or law enforcement.
"The comments are re-traumatizing, they're re-victimizing and they're everlasting. For every ten people that said I support you, I care about you, I remember the critical things people said to me and my family," said Jonna Williams.
Williams hopes everyone keeps the girls in the public eye but in a positive way. As her life was greatly impacted by one man, she reminds us all everything we do or say affects someone.
One really interesting part of Jonna's story, she buried one of her bracelets at the crime scene. Jonna says no matter what happened, she wanted proof she was there. That evidence and Jonna identifying Dale Viers in a photo line up helped authorities immensely with this case.
Jonna Williams is in the process of writing a book. She's almost done, but she's waiting for one last piece to her story. Jonna wants to sit down with her offender to better understand the impact people had on his life. But as of now, Dale Viers has not agreed to meet with her. He's currently at the Iowa State Penitentiary in Fort Madison.
Like so many people, Williams hopes Elizabeth Collins and Lyric Morrissey come home and are able to work through what happened to them.
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