By Abbey Doyle
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. —
Amanda Brinker bubbled with life and laughter.
Laura Parkhurst said “Amanda Panda” — as family lovingly referred to her — was stolen from her too soon by a man Amanda believed loved her.
Amanda, 14, was killed Sept. 20, 2007, by 20-year-old Jesse Lee Pitts, who beat her in the back of the head with a vehicle jack handle at Edgewater Park. Family said Pitts had taken advantage of Amanda, who was still a child. The two had been acquaintances before the incident. He was sentenced to 65 years in prison.
Laura remembers her daughter as creative. Her home is filled with Amanda’s art projects.
She was a skilled gymnast, more graceful than the other girls, and a great softball player. Her passion for animals was clear.
“So many of the photos I have of her she is holding one of our pets,” Laura said.
That love of living things influenced her aspirations; she wanted to be a veterinarian or a nurse.
Amanda had an uncanny ability to make people laugh. Shy at first blush, she loved her close bond with family and friends.
Laura described her middle child — who she jokingly called her Jan Brady child — as “simply a beautiful, sweet, amazing young girl who loved her family and friends.”
Amanda had a bright, promising life. Her death devastated those who knew her.
“There are so many things,” Laura said. “I didn’t get to see her graduate. I don’t get to make her birthday cakes. It is so hard every day. I don’t know how to put that loss into words.”
Amanda’s younger brother Kurtis was 9 years old when Amanda was killed. The two were very close, Amanda doting on him when he was young. And she and older sister Suzanne were competitive, driving the other to be the best.
“She was my baby, my child,” Laura said, chocking back tears. “This isn’t just another story in the paper. The loss is so great to so many people.”