HOGBACK — Fifteen years ago, Janine Franklin started a Good Friday walk from Sacred Heart Parish in Waterflow to Christ the King Parish in Shiprock that she never finished.
Franklin, 32, died on April 2, 1999, when a drunken driver crashed into her on the shoulder of U.S. Highway 64 about four miles west of the Hogback formation. She and a church group were participating in a Good Friday pilgrimage. Franklin had about four miles left in the 15-mile walk.
This Good Friday, her children, friends and other relatives gathered at a memorial marker off U.S. Highway 64 near Hogback and finished her walk.
The late woman's daughter, Alex Franklin, said this was the group's second time gathering for the walk. A few years after their mother's death, they walked the entire stretch from Waterflow to Shiprock.
Alex Franklin shared the following note she wrote to her mother, who was killed by a drunken driver on April 2, 1999.
"It s been 15 years since we ve hugged you, had our good night kiss and heard your beautiful voice. On Good Friday, you left your house to do your walk for what you loved, your religion. We awaited your arrival, but you never came back. We want to remember what an amazing mother you were. Your laughter and amazing outlook on life is still remembered. Your granddaughter Aliana asks for you and papa. We all tell her that she has God s best guardian angels."
At about 8 a.m. Friday, the group of around a dozen friends and family met beside the memorial marker. The marker is decorated with felt flowers and a potted lily. Samantha Franklin, Janine Franklin's youngest child, said lilies were her mother's favorite flower.
Beneath the flowers at the front of the marker is a sign that reads "Forever my mother, for always my friend." Alex Franklin put the sign there on Mother's Day six years ago.
As they walked, some shared their memories of Janine Franklin, while others walked in silence past farm land and houses that dot the road.
About a year before her last walk, Janine Franklin converted to Catholicism.
"I think she was in search of herself," Alex Franklin said.
Alex Franklin said her mother got involved in the faith and was excited about the walk, which was her first Good Friday walk. Christians often commemorate Good Friday, the day they believe Jesus Christ was crucified, with a walk that symbolizes Christ's journey to the cross.
"It just made her feel good and you could tell the happiness she found in it," Alex Franklin said of the walk.
When her mother died, Alex Franklin, who is also Catholic, said she felt angry at the church.
"I had felt that it had taken her," she said.
Alex Franklin was 11 when her mother died, and she said she was too young to understand what had happened. She said she couldn't wrap her mind around how a drunken driver early in the morning could kill her mom.
"You never expect your mom not to come back," said her sister, Samantha Franklin, who was 9 at the time.
In October 1999, Amos Joe pleaded guilty in federal court in Albuquerque to second-degree murder for the death of Janine Franklin, according to The Daily Times archives. He was sentenced in January 2000 to five years in prison, followed by five years of supervised release.
The Shiprock man had a blood alcohol concentration of .28, which is more than three times the legal limit. Witnesses reported his vehicle swerved onto the shoulder and struck Janine Franklin around 9:15 a.m. while he was driving in the eastbound lane of U.S. Highway 64,. According to The Daily Times archives, witnesses said he did not attempt to apply his breaks.
In 2010, Joe was arrested on suspicion of aggravated sexual abuse, according to court documents. In December 2011, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Less than five years after her mother's death, Alex Franklin's father, Stephen Franklin, 40, was stabbed to death during a fight outside a home in Shiprock.
Alex Franklin's grandmother took in the girls and their brother and raised them.
"If it wasn't for my grandma, who knows where we would be," Alex Franklin said.
Alex Franklin said she has since found comfort in her faith again. In November 2012, she baptized her six-year-old daughter, Aliana Janine Franklin, into the church. During the baptism, she felt her mother's presence, she said.
"I just felt this comfort that I haven't felt in so long," she said.