Lilla grew up in Eugene as one of 10 children. The family raised rabbits and had pigs, chickens, a couple of horses and a milk cow. Lilla could read and write before she started school. When she was about 10, the family moved to Clarkia, Idaho, where Lilla was a cheerleader and a basketball player. If she could have been a cheerleader at her own basketball games, she would have practically been in heaven. She also liked drawing, especially women's hands.
As an adolescent, Lilla started cutting her arms with knives, and her family's history worked against her. Her mother and other relatives were alcoholics. Her siblings struggled with substance abuse. She was diagnosed as manic-depressive and was prescribed lithium, but she stopped taking it. About the same time, when she was 13, she started drinking with friends. Lilla attended a lot of counseling sessions, but would show up only when she felt like it.
The family moved to Cornelius when Lilla was about 15, but she was already adrift. On a Greyhound from Spokane to Portland, she met Jose. He introduced her to speedballs, a combination of cocaine and heroin. She was 16. When she was 18, Lilla became pregnant, but she was still on the streets doing drugs. Lilla's baby celebrated his first birthday in a halfway house in Milwaukie. Lilla held down a fast-food job while still using drugs. When the baby was about 2, Lilla entered the first of many drug-treatment programs at her mother's urging. She would stay clean for a while, once as long as about two years. She worked regular jobs, selling house siding over the telephone and running a hot dog cart. She moved to Tillamook and stayed in a Christian halfway house, working at the Thriftway there. She wrote gospel songs but always fell back into drugs, unable to realize the hope of her hymn.
She often ended up in jail on drug and prostitution charges. In 1995, while in jail, her family had to tell her through a little glass window that her mother had died. She wasn't allowed out for the funeral. The following year LIlla allowed her child to be adopted by one of her sisters, but Lilla remained beyond her family's help. The more she used drugs, the more she was ashamed and the less contact she had with her family, calling once every month or two.
Lilla was found dead in May, 1999 - her body left hidden in the woods in a Portland park, the victim of a serial strangler who was later caught and sentenced to three life terms in prison.
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