His absence had been hard on all of the family, she said, her mother in particular, like a death in the family.
For Pastor Chris Cutshall, the loss of his daughter Lindsay on a California beach was not something like a death in the family. It was a death — unexpected, unexplained, unresolved. The grieving has not ended, and he scoffed at the notion of closure.
At the same time, he and his wife, along with Allen's parents, have demonstrated a remarkable calm that comes from their conviction that their children went to sleep that night and, as Pastor Cutshall would eulogize, presiding over a memorial rather than a marriage, "woke up in the arms of Jesus Christ."
Shortly after the killings, the Cutshalls responded to a letter of condolence sent by the people of Jenner. The couple wrote that they did not blame the town for what happened, and added: "Perhaps we can visit your fair community some day." In the same letter, they quoted the Old Testament:
"For man is born for trouble, and sparks fly upward."
Chapter 5, verse 7. The Book of Job.
"If you have ever seen a campfire," the pastor explained, "there are sparks that fly up out of that — inevitably. I think this is true of us too. While on planet Earth, this hard planet we live on, we are going to have tribulations and trials. And we Christians are not immune."
Maureen Burgess, two years older than her brother, still resides in the tidy, two-story bungalow near the shore in Asbury Park where the family moved in 1961. She too flies an American flag over the porch. Unlike her sister, she did not want to talk about her brother.
Had anyone in the family ever heard from Joseph over the years, she was asked. A postcard, a telephone call, anything?
"I have nothing to say to you," Burgess said.
Her view was that the business involving her brother was old news, that it was done with and ought to be dropped. Why are you writing about this now, she demanded. Told there had been similar cases, she snapped back: "All cases are similar.
"You don't think about what you do to the people who are left behind," she complained.
No one has been so absolutely left behind as Geoffrey Durrant, the father of the young woman killed on Radar Beach. A retired English professor, Durrant is 93 now, hard of hearing but otherwise fit and trim.
He comes to the door of his town house outside Vancouver in stocking feet, jeans and a blue shirt buttoned to the top. He moves to the living room, snaps his hearing aids into place and, speaking softly, begins to retrace the ripples of pain that rolled out from Radar Beach.
"Of course," Durrant begins, "it changed our whole lives completely. My wife became very full of guilt."
In 1961, the same year the Burgess family moved from Jersey City to Asbury Park, he and his family — wife Barbara, a son and two daughters — left their home in South Africa and headed to Canada. They wanted to escape the system of apartheid and the troubles it created.
More specifically, the parents worried that their son would be drafted into the army and forced, as Durrant puts it, "to shoot down Africans." Canada, it seemed, "promised a haven of peace and freedom."
The decision to move was mutual between husband and wife, but she had suggested it and "felt responsible for a bad decision." Barbara Durrant never overcame her grief. She died eight years ago.