“If the Son sets you free, you are truly free.” (Jesus)
My college roommate and best friend at the time murdered her husband on Valentine’s Day, 1998. Even though it was a famous and well-publicized murder, I never knew until recently that she was serving a life sentence in a Maryland correctional facility. We had spoken just a couple of years prior to the murder, but we lost touch, mostly because we had both moved and it was before social media (snail mail just didn’t cut it in those days).
Fast-forward to this past January when I spoke at a women’s group telling the story of my continuing redemption and restoration. I hadn’t thought of this friend for several years, but some things that we shared (not such good things) were a huge part of my redemption story and I shared them with this group. Just FIVE days later, I commented on a friend’s Facebook post and received a quick response, “Are you the Esther Maret that roomed with Kim Aungst in college?” I recognized her as Kim’s high school friend, Rachelle. Quickly, I private messaged her and said yes. I couldn’t believe Kim’s name was coming up again. I asked if she was still in touch and how I could reach her.
Her next message: “As for Kim, we are still friends but it is a long, sad, crazy story. She was convicted in 1999 of killing her husband. If you Google Kimberly Hricko, you can see part of the story. (I know some of you are clicking… don’t forget that you are reading what the media wants you to know and don’t forget to come back!!!) At first I wasn’t sure if she did it but she has since admitted she did. I am pretty much the only friend from that period of her life that stood by her. I just felt that regardless of what she did, she needed someone. She has since turned herself to Jesus and is helping others in prison. She has a daughter who I kept in touch with. She was like a niece to me. She is married and has a daughter.”
A few more messages were exchanged. My body started to tingle all over. I was overwhelmed at the heart of Rachelle who had unconditionally loved Kim, but my mind went to how this could have happened. Two young girls sharing a dorm room at a Christian college. Best friends. The transfer after freshman year to separate schools. One goes on to marry, raise a family and do normal things (that would be me). The other kills her husband and is in jail for life. I spent the better part of a week sorting through my feelings and decided to write her a letter, convinced that God had brought her back into my life. Would she respond?
Mustering the courage to tell Kim that my heart was broken for her and that I wanted to see her, I penned a short letter, enclosing a picture of our family, telling her bits about myself, promising not to judge her, explaining that I just wanted to be hear her story and be her friend again.
It took weeks to get a reply (snail mail in jail is extremely snailish). She wanted to see me. Relief washed over me. I met with Rachelle for breakfast and spent the better half of the morning getting reacquainted, sharing the stories of our lives and making a plan to go see Kim together.
That happened this past Thursday. A four-hour trip to Jessup, Maryland (Rachelle almost not getting in because of bra hooks that set off the metal detector), a one-hour visit with smiles, stories, and quick hugs, and a four-hour trip home.
Early Thursday morning, I prayed that I would bring healing and restoration to Kim and that I would (wait for it…okay, it’s hard for me) listen, listen, listen. But, of course, God had something else up his sleeve.
The moment I saw her sitting in the visiting room at the sterile table, my heart leapt for joy. As we spoke, she was the same Kim: kind, funny, smart, interesting and my friend. The three of us spoke for the hour, reminiscing, sharing stories of ourselves, our thoughts, our families, and she shared about life in prison. It was fascinating, to say the least. Here are little glimpses of her life:
- She works and makes $3.45 a day as a layout engineer using CAD software. She designs office space for municipalities and has even done some dorm layouts for the University of Maryland.
- She has to buy all her own toiletries. Tide Pods are $6.99 for a small box.
- She lives in the most privileged section of the prison because of good behavior. She has a TV (with an old antenna) and a DVD player. She has seen reruns of the TV shows where she is featured countless times.
- She has a pet cat named Lynn. The local shelter has partnered with the prison to allow inmates to care for a dog or a cat which goes with them to freedom if and when they get out. (litter box right in the cell)
- She started a book club (that has now spread to three or four other prisons) where college professors come and teach. Her favorite book is Life of Pi.
- She speaks to victims’ families and allows them to ask her any question. This is designed to bring understanding and the potential for forgiveness and healing.
The story of her heart was even more fascinating. She has come to the place where she has taken ownership, admitted guilt, and sought ways to contact her husband’s family to ask for forgiveness. She has hope that (and it would truly be a miracle) one day there might be some kind of healing between them.
I was confused and amazed as to how she had gotten to this place. How had she worked through all the shame and guilt. I mean this is big stuff. Like huge stuff. Way out of my league stuff. Why is she okay? And not just okay. She actually used the word “blessed.” I received a little peak at part of the answer.
We spoke about how God’s heart is NOT for retribution, but for restoration. His desire is not to punish her, but to redeem her (or any of us for that matter). She knows this life-changing truth at the core of her soul. He loves her no matter what she has done. He is restoring her. Not to freedom on the outside (both literally and figuratively), but to freedom on the inside (both literally and figuratively). WOW! Just WOW!
It all hit me like a tons of bricks: this is why Jesus came. Freedom for the prisoners (Luke 4:18). Not the outside kind, but the inside kind. And no circumstance or failure (even premeditated murder) or brokenness is too much for Him. He doesn’t discard anyone. He never sees anyone as beyond hope. He can free anyone, even normal me. This is His main business.
I prayed very differently on Thursday night. This time it was not that I would bring healing to Kim, but thanksgiving that she had brought a little more healing, freedom and restoration that day to little old me! Surprise!
(By the way, I received her permission to share all of this.)
READ MORE ABOUT KIM HERE at these other links:
This one is GOLD! A Letter from Prison and a Journey to Freedom
Dear Kim (my letter to prison about what might really matter)
40 thoughts on “Kim (A Prisoner on the Outside, but not on the Inside)”
Amazing grace. Thanks
For sharing. Keep pursuing what God is going to show you through this blog.
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Yes… good word… amazing grace!
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Unbelievable that not ONCE did she mention or show ANY sympathy for the man who was murdered or his family. The sympathy was all for Kim. A ruthless cold blooded premeditated murderer. And all in the name of Jesus. How sad. Makes me sick.
Thank you for your comment. This blog post was not about the man who was murdered or his family. It was about how none of us are beyond the reach of God’s touch and healing and redemption, no matter how awful we have been or what horrible thing we have done. None of us is beyond forgiveness and restoration. Thank you.
What a INCREDIBLE and AMAZING journey each of us has through life; I am very excited about this particular gift of experience you have been given and are sharing with me, with us. Thank you for this post , for penning your process through this incredible twist in your own story – and for sharing the fascinating, encouraging and inspiring story of your friend Kim. Walking through this with you is an such an enriching and expanding experience ;I feel a strong connection to Kim and to her journey now. I am happy for you, for her, for me and for all of us (your readers) for what we have already received; and because I know there with be more and more “freedom on the inside” and more “blessed” experienced and shared as your stories enfold.
Without you, my posts would be so much less than they are… thanks for being my editor!!
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it’s my favorite!!
Oh please. Are you high? Look. Forgiveness is for those who are sorry for their sins. This lady is sorry she got caught. She sounds like a psychopath. Their amygdala never developed so they can’t feel empathy. In any case 1% of the world is like that and I don’t see them running around killing people. She’s probably also a sociopath. Bad upbringing.
Powerful. Moving. Amazing job Esther!
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Thanks Gerri… it really is an incredible story of redemption… thanking God for a look into it…
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Wow! Thank you for sharing this story. I’m sure so many of the other inmates have been curious about how Kim can be so joyful and productive in her circumstances; she has probably inspired many others to seek out the Lord. Kept thinking about Philippians 4:12-13 while reading this. Happy she has found peace, and that you have re-connected with her.
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Thank you Dina… I think she is looked up to as she continues to advocate for the younger, poorer and less-educated prisoners. I am thankful to have reconnected with her as well!
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Amazing. So glad you went to see Kim and so amazed by God’s miracle in her life.
Me too Donna. I can’t wait to go back. One thing it reminded me of is that God is doing miracles every day all over the world and in each of our lives. His reach stretches to the ends of the earth (as you guys well know)… no corner is hidden from His love and mercy and grace.
What a load of religious bullshit. So brainwashed by someone else converting you all think this is ok even though she took someone’s life, father, son.
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I am sad that you feel this way. I have received the amazing forgiveness and redemption of a loving God who tells me I am never out of His reach. It’s not okay what she did, but it is okay that she is forgiven and redeemed. It’s the best story of all, a story that can be for all of us.
Exactly, it’s all a con, religion, and the religious are the most narcissistic and possibly dangerous sheeple on this planet who’ll murder their own loved ones for money and sex, then look for another gullible Xtian on the outside to con into thinking they’re saved by some entity unseen, so let us all sing kumbaya for baby Jesus because he, a dead man, can hears us??
Both Chris Coleman, Joyce Meyers chief security, who murdered his 2 sons and wife, was raised by pastor parents. Chris Watts recently killed his wife and 2 daughters claims to be Xtian too? Of course, I mean, they aren’t going to claim to be Atheists or Muslims now, ya know? LOL.
The reason you Theists deny evolution is because evolution denied you common sense and critical thinking skills, so you’ve latched on to fairytales and dogmas because you don’t like to THINK or be RESPONSIBLE for your actions, so blame it on the boogie man called Satan.
Mega church pastors, Catholic Priests, and people like these murderers are Devils who are just conning you sheeple because it’s entertainment for them like it was when they first met their victims.
I am not a huge fan of religion. I am, however, a huge fan of redemption. No one is beyond it, or too far gone. I hold onto that with every fiber of my being. Thank you for your comment.
She should have looked to GOD, earlier! A son, brother,and friend would still be alive! Greed and adultery put her there where she belongs!
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Hello. I am very sorry you feel that way. We all should have looked to God earlier in our lives. That’s not the point of this. This story is about the fact that no matter what we have done in our lives, we are not beyond redemption, forgiveness and mercy. How do you know that greed and adultery put her where she belongs? Do you have personal knowledge of her situation? Just curious.
You and your readers feel sorry for her, happy for her? She killed her husband (premeditation murder) in a cruel manner so she could collect on her life insurance and resume her affair with her lover. This wasn’t a crime of passion this was planned out. Let’s get some comments from her family on how they ‘forgive’ her and what she did to them. She should have been put to death. This is the religious BS that wants to make me steer clear of any church and their parishoners.
Thank you so much for your comment. I’m not sure where you are getting your information about her insurance and lover. But understand why you would be horrified about that. I have found one thing very true in my own life. Forgiveness is always best. I have needed it many many times. For me, redemption and restoration trumps everything. There is always room for second chances. I am not saying she should not be in prison, but that she as a human being can be and has been forgiven and redeemed. I am so sorry if this feels horrible to you. It has freed my heart and I am just thankful to know the end of the story and not just the beginning. Thank you again. I take these comments very seriously.
I am completely OK with drawing the “forgiveness” line at murder.
I’m very progressive/left, but the death penalty should be the rule, not the exception, to crimes of this horrendous magnitude. Any homicide involving an ambush/setup justifies public execution.
Thank you for responding. I am just so grateful God’s forgiveness line is not drawn at murder, even though our human lines might be. It’s my personal great hope! It doesn’t excuse the action, but it also doesn’t make the action the whole sum of a human life.
Whatever positive picture you paint of her (positive things you share with her in the past), she’s still guilty of the crime, and she need to pay for that. Also, you’re not in the position to advocate “forgiveness” for her. It is something that the family needs to give freely. I might not agree with death penalty, but there are more people in the world who deserve compassion than murderers like her.
First of all, thank you for sharing your thoughts. I agree with you and feel that she should pay for her crime. She is doing that. I also believe that forgiveness is something that should be given freely as a gift. 100%. But I would differ with you on this one point. I believe compassion should be given to everyone, no matter what they have done. I don’t think it is limited. I also believe that forgiveness is freely given by God to everyone, no matter what they have done. No one has done something so bad that God cannot forgive them. It’s the biggest and most beautiful story of all. Thank you again for sharing your thoughts. I am glad you were civil in your comment. Means the world to me. I hope you get a chance to read more of my stuff. It might give you some insight into why I believe this way.
You have some nerve writing about forgiveness for a murderer that never expressed remorse for her crime. The only one she is sorry for is herself. She is never getting out. Society needs to be protected from people liker her. You simply enable her sociopathic tendencies. Your sympathy should be for the innocent victim. Some crimes are unforgivable and this is one of them. Shame on you.
Thanks for your comment. I just have a couple of questions for you. And I’m not being unkind. They are serious ones. How do you know that she never expressed remorse for her crime? Also how do you know he was innocent? And I believe that, according to Jesus, no crimes are unforgivable. And that’s where I have to land. None of us is ever too far gone! If you, by chance, read the stories in the Scriptures, you will find many murderers who were forgiven. It doesn’t mean she needs to be released from prison, but she can be forgiven for her sins. Thank you again, for your thoughts. I am not ashamed to be one of the people who know the whole story, and not just what the media tells. And knowing that no sins are unforgivable gives me great hope for my own life.
Such a beautiful post! You are so right, Esther! The point is God’s Love and Redemption. Isn’t it wonderful how The Lord works!
Thank you so much for your encouragement. YES. It is wonderful!!!
Don’t know what religion you follow but Jesus Christ followed the law of Moshe and very staunchly I should add…
…. so basically what this means is, that the lady murderer shall have her recompense as soon as her mundane sentence expires…
She should kindly be warned that in the world to come there is certainly no expiry date on the sentence that she’ll be receiving…. and please 🙏… don’t shoot the messenger. Peace ✌ and love to all!!!
Thanks for your thoughtful response. I guess I’ve been thinking about three people lately who were murderers who God forgave and, in fact, they became spiritual leaders:
Moses (Moshe himself) – murdered an Egyptian in cold blood
David – murdered Uriah (Bathsheba’s husband)
Saul/Paul – murdered Christians
I don’t see Jesus condemning them to an eternal sentence.
…. judgment my dear. That is the way of all who follow in God’s footsteps…
Who says that forgiveness is out of the question. Of course not. It’s forever at our disposal.
The greater point is ‘accountability’. This will not be dissolved under any circumstances. All will be judged accordingly. No doubt about this…
And yes. Prophet’s have slain but no doubt, even they shall not escape the Lord’s judgement.
Yeheshua taught how to pray, how to repent and how to seek forgiveness but at no point did HE absolve anyone from the Ultimate Judgment that is to come.
‘Grace’, will be bestowed after, not before. Which means we’ll be taking all our baggage with us. This is what our murderer should fully apprehend. Doing so will help her become better prepared! Peace ✌
I’ve been a Christian all my life and have never heard anything like this before. So interesting. What will happen to those with the Lord who are judged for their deeds here on earth? And what makes murder worse than any other sin that each one of us commits? Will those who do not keep the Sabbath, will they be judged? Can you help me to understand your thoughts on what the judgment is exactly? What will happen to us? And what does being better prepared do for us except make us scared out of our minds? Is that what God wants? I am genuinely asking all these questions because it’s very interesting to me and it doesn’t quite sound like the God that I’ve come to know and the Jesus who loves me. Thank you again for taking your time. I really appreciate this genuine discussion. Also, do you base your ideas on Scripture or some other book or your own experiences? Thank you again.
Kim you are a self centred, cold blooded killer. Stop acting like a victim, you deserve EVERYTHING you get. You destroyed your own daughters life and took the life of a man who’s only mistake was to love an evil monster like you.
How do you know all this to be true?