Sarpy County is planning to pay tribute to two young boys who were brutally murdered in 1983.
The Crime Victims’ Memorial for Danny Joe Eberle and Christopher Walden will serve as a permanent reminder of their lives and represent Sarpy County’s commitment to seeking justice for crime victims and survivors.
“We must not forget this devastating case,” said Sarpy County Sheriff Jeff Davis. “This memorial will allow us to publicly recognize and remember that these boys’ lives – and all crime victims’ lives – meant something.”
The project is a collaboration between the Sarpy County Sheriff’s Office and Leadership Sarpy, a program through the Sarpy County Chamber of Commerce. Davis proposed the memorial as a Leadership Sarpy legacy project.
The project will be recognized with a proclamation scheduled to be read at the County Board of Commissioners’ meeting on Tuesday.
“This is a significant part of Sarpy County history, and as the county grows, a lot of people may not know about it,” said Sarpy County Sheriff’s Sgt. Jonathan Raughton, a member of Leadership Sarpy. “We’re proud to carry out Sheriff Davis’s vision to raise awareness to future generations of Sarpy County residents.”
Fundraising is underway for the memorial, which will be placed in the Sarpy County Courthouse Complex. Its design is in the early stages, though it will include a plaque with the story of Eberle and Walden.
The boys’ murders shocked Sarpy County and the entire Omaha area. Eberle, 13, was delivering newspapers for the Omaha World-Herald when he went missing on Sept. 18, 1983. His body was found a few days later in rural Bellevue, just four miles from where he was last seen.
Christopher Walden, 12, went missing while walking to school on Dec. 2, 1983 – the first day his mother allowed him to do so since Eberle’s murder. His body was recovered on Dec. 5 near Giles Road and Portal Road.
Their killer confessed to the kidnappings and murders on Jan. 11, 1984. He was executed by the State of Nebraska in 1996. Before his execution, he confessed to a third earlier murder of Ricky Stetson, a young boy from Portland, Maine.
Lisa Summers, a member of the Leadership Sarpy group working on the memorial, went to the same junior high as Danny Joe Eberle and remembers not being able to play outside after his abduction.
“This story has been with me – always,” said Summers, who is Director of Resident Services with Hillcrest Health Services. “I’m just glad to be part of this project, something that is so powerful.”
“This case made a huge ripple effect through the community,” added Jon McCarville, a civil engineer for LEO A DALY and Leadership Sarpy member. “We hope this memorial recognizes everyone affected by senseless crime – from the victims and their families, to first responders and beyond.”
For more information about how to contribute to the memorial, visit the Sarpy County Sheriff’s Foundation Fund through the Midlands Community Foundation. Please include Crime Victims’ Memorial in the notes.
Donations can also be mailed to the Sarpy County Sheriff’s Foundation Fund, 8335 Platteview Road, Papillion NE 68046. Please include Crime Victims’ Memorial on the memo line.