Eric Behrman used to pick up his daughter Jill from her Thursday class in Ballantine Hall so they could have lunch together.
Yogi’s Grill and Bar was one of her favorite spots. She always ordered a large chef salad with the restaurant’s signature Hendrickson’s dressing.
“We’d talk about classes, what she was doing, her friends,” Eric Behrman said as he sipped Diet Coke at Yogi’s and remembered his daughter. “Being the dad, I always gave her some money. I always joked and teased her that the only time she wanted to see me was when she needed money.”
Fourteen years ago, Jill went for a bike ride and never came back. In 2006, her murderer was sentenced to 65 years in prison.
“For 30 months, we had no idea what happened to Jill,” Eric Behrman said. “We had no idea where she was or anything at all. In situations like this you want to stay hopeful that she’ll just walk in the back door one day, ‘Mom, Dad, I’m here.’”
He stops, sips through his straw and tries not to cry.
Since the awful day they learned of Jill’s murder, her parents have somehow managed to cope. They’ve organized an annual 5K in her remembrance and helped found a not-for-profit organization called Jill’s House, a place where patients undergoing medical treatment and their families can stay.
“The loss of a child is like a wound that never heals,” Behrman said. “It’s always there. And you never know what is going to bring back the memories. Things come back real quick.”
Marilyn Behrman, Jill’s mother, misses the little moments. An email from Jill during the day. Seeing a movie, just the two of them.
Since Jill’s death, she has become especially aware when a student goes missing or loses his life.
The IU community should know when a student dies, Marilyn said, but the family also needs to be respected.
“There are a lot of students who feel connected by the fact that they are students,” she said. “But yet, so many students didn’t actually know that person either.”
Marilyn remembers Jill’s friends saying to her, “Jill didn’t do anything that I don’t do. This could have been me. It so easily could have been me instead of her.”
“The more the public and the more the student body is aware that these things do happen,” Marilyn said. “The more they understand how you respond.”