Statement from Joel Courtney's older sister
My name is Dina Courtney McBride. I am the eldest sister of Joel Patrick Courtney. I am currently hospitalized for a lengthy ongoing health problem, and am unable to make a statement in person at present. I would, however, like to make a brief statement.
During the early morning hours of November 30, 2004 a phone call awakened our family. Information was given that informed us that my younger brother, Joel Patrick Courtney, had been arrested in New Mexico - we did not know what the charge was at that point in time.
It was later that evening when we learned that he had been accused of kidnapping and sexually assaulting a young college co-ed at knife-point.
That evening began a conversation amongst my husband and I that started with the half-posed questions, "Do you think?." Pause, "He couldn't be involved with ?" and then finally, "It's impossible to even think it's possible."
Those phrases came because as soon as we heard of the details of the case in New Mexico - we couldn't help but wonder at the similarities related to the disappearance of Brooke Wilberger.
We talked at length. We tried to reconstruct events from several months earlier. We came up with a basic idea of a timeline, and then we went to our family datebook and compared notes.
With dawning realization, we dreaded that there was, perhaps, a chance that Joel was somehow involved in the abduction of beautiful, vivacious, precious Brooke Wilberger.
What do you do when you are faced with the thought that someone whom you love is capable of something so inexplicably evil? Who do you call? We wondered if we were just being paranoid. We wondered if we were not paranoid enough.
After a great deal of time communicating about it - well into the early hours of the morning, we concluded that we would pray, sleep on it, and then if we still felt that there was any chance of Joel's involvement, we should contact law enforcement.
As it turned out, we didn't have time - law enforcement contacted us. Early December 2004 began a working relationship between my Mother, now deceased, myself, and the various law enforcement agencies involved with the pursuit of truth and justice for Brooke Wilberger and her loving family.
From the very first inkling of a possible connection, the core of our family has stood with the solid conviction that while we love Joel, we answer to God first and foremost, and would commit to making ourselves available to the pursuit of clarification of facts and events.
This has been a long and difficult season for all concerned. Our hearts continue to weep for the Wilberger family. We weep for Joel's family - two of whom are young children who have suffered losses that continue to break our hearts. There are countless other family members and friends who have suffered in one way or the other for the Wilberger family, and our own.
Our first prayer from November 30th, 2004 was: "Father God, we ask, if Joel is responsible for this that he would tell the truth, and please - let Brooke be found." This is a prayer that has been oft repeated. We'd go so far as to say daily repeated - in the years since. When I learned that the truth had been revealed and Brooke's body had been recovered, I wept. The emotions are bittersweet, but I am so thankful that the Wilberger family can have the resolution that they have so diligently sought.
As a family we want to express our love and continued support for the Wilberger family. Their unswerving devotion has been an inspiration and encouragement to us.
We also wish to thank the various law enforcement agencies that have been involved, the Assistant District Attorney, and District Attorney of Benton County. Their commitment to excellence, attention to detail, kind and compassionate interaction with our family have been a blessing.
Lastly, if I could ask anything of you - the media - and those who hear or read these words, to remember that these actions taken by my brother have deeply impacted - and will continue to do so - several extended families. We as a family continue to ask that you respect our privacy and honor our need to mourn and heal.