Clients | The WILLOW Project | Webster University

The WILLOW Project Clients

BirdAmelia Bird

Amelia Bird suffered extreme physical and sexual abuse throughout her life. As a teenager, Amelia resorted to drugs and an unstable and violent boyfriend, Chad Brantley, for refuge and comfort. When she was 16 years old, she complained to her then ex-boyfriend Brantley about the abuse. In an effort to win back Amelia’s affections and to enable him to continue to control her life, Brantley took it upon himself to enter her parents’ house at night while Amelia was sleeping and shot both of her parents. Her mother died and her father was badly injured.

Charged along with Brantley, and threatened with first degree murder and the death penalty, Amelia eventually relented and took the plea to second-degree murder and first-degree assault. She received two life sentences to be served consecutively, and won’t be eligible for parole until she is at least 60.   

Busse Amanda Busse

Amanda lived in a household ruled by drugs and regular abuse by her father. After the death of her mother, and at 17 years of age, Amanda “married” a man in his 30’s who was a friend of her father’s. By all accounts, this man also routinely controlled and abused Amanda psychologically for most of her waking moments. This man was feared not only by Amanda but by all members of the local community. When a local woman was found brutally murdered, Amanda’s abusive father and husband were charged with the crime. Her husband was sentenced to life, but charges against her father were dropped. In order to free Amanda’s father, Amanda’s similarly abused younger brother implicated Amanda in the crime five years after its commission.

Amanda was convicted of second degree murder on May 27, 2004. She was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Her defense at trial on the murder charge lasted a total of 3 minutes, from 12:59pm to 1:02pm. Since the time of her arrest in 2003, she has maintained her innocence and continuously denies being at the scene of the crime.  In addition, her younger brother has since recanted his implication of Amanda.    

AngelAngel Stewart 

Angel Stewart was a teenager in 1994 when she was held captive by two men in Iowa. While these two men brutally raped and terrorized Angel and another juvenile female, they also threatened harm to Angel’s one year old child whom they also held captive. During their captivity, these two men kidnapped and murdered two elderly women from their neighborhood  — one in Iowa, one in Missouri. Angel’s only thought throughout the horrific events was protecting her baby from harm. 

When the police caught up to them, Angel ran to them with her child in her arms, and immediately locked herself in a patrol car. The initial officers on the scene then considered her a victim and immediately drove her to a local store to purchase food and diapers for her child. It was only later that they were instructed that she was a “participant” in the crimes. Angel refused to plead guilty to any crime for over a year. Threatened with the death penalty, she eventually pled guilty to kidnapping and received a sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole.

Angel was physically and sexually abused by her father for a number of years prior to these events. Angel also has severe learning issues which inhibited her ability to read and to comprehend her plea agreement. Angel has been in prison for 20 years for the murders which she did not commit, and while being victimized herself.


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