Read the personal notes from Dateline producer, Shane Bishop, in making the two-hour report 'Bringing Brooke Home', which aired Friday, Feb. 4th, at 9pm/8c.
Hi, my name is: Shane Bishop
I've been a producer: at Dateline for 16 years.
When I first came across this story, I thought to myself: From my home in Oregon, I watched it unfold from the day Brooke was abducted in May 2004. It was as if the quality of the air changed in the entire state: each Oregonian holding his or her breath, hoping Brooke would be found. The only other time I've felt this was when little Kyron Hormon disappeared in June 2010.
My inspirations in telling this story: My own daughter. If anything ever happened to her I would want people to care as much about her as everyone in Oregon does about Brooke.
Something I won’t forget about Corvallis, Oregon: Wherever we went in the area, people asked us what we were doing. I won't forget the looks on their faces when we said the name "Brooke." To so many there, it still feels as if it happened yesterday. They'll never forget it.
The most memorable words I heard: To hear Cammy Wilberger step up to a microphone at a press conference in September 2009 and express gratitude to her daughter's killer for revealing the location of Brooke's body remains an indelible moment for me.
The most admirable person I met along the way: Brooke's entire family endured the unbearable with remarkable grace. They showed me that we all have a choice in how we respond to every situation we encounter. Even with fear and pain searing their souls, they made the choice to respond with faith, gratitude, and love. I hope I never forget their good example.
The most striking image I saw : For any parent, it's hard to reconcile in one's mind how the smiling blonde, blue-eyed boy we see in family photos grows to become the scowling man in the mugshots who told his own mother that he' d never be held accountable for Brooke's murder.
What still surprises me about this story: I was surprised in a wonderful way (perhaps heartened is the better word) by the outpouring of love and compassion for Brooke's family from the moment word of her disappearance spread. Thousands of church members, neighbors, and total strangers dropped everything to search for one missing child. To me, it evoked images of a painting I grew up with in Sunday School in Montana: the Shepherd who leaves the entire flock to search for one lost lamb.
Biggest challenge while doing this story: I had to establish trust with so many players in this drama: Brooke's mother and siblings; the killer's sister, Dina; the family of Sung Koo Kim. But the bigger challenge was attempting to find the right incentive for convicted killer Joel Courtney to talk to us. I was never able to convince him to talk.
In a word, this is really a Dateline story about: Grace.
Last but not least, in general, I wish: Girls didn't have to grow up worrying about men like Joel Courtney.
Thanks for watching Dateline NBC!