A gate and an elevator security system guard the seafront view from the sixth floor of Cecilia McAdams’ condo in Pensacola Beach, Florida.
Cecilia McAdams rebuilt her life in this safe haven after the 1993 murder of her husband, Gary, and her rape.
Johnny Shane Kormondy, one of three men who raped McAdams that night and the one who shot her husband, was killed via lethal injection on Jan. 15.
Cecilia McAdams waited 22 years to see it happen.
“There was no reason for that to happen [to us],” she said. “It was a random act of violence. We just happened to be in the right place at the wrong time.”
Kormondy, along with two others, broke into the McAdams’ home in 1993. He was sentenced to death in 1994, and again in 1999 after he filed a direct appeal for resentencing to the Florida Supreme Court.
In both instances, Cecilia McAdams feared his death sentence would be overturned.
“There was always a constant worry,” she said. “I’ve discovered that what once was normal is no longer normal. I will never have that life again.”
Cecilia McAdams’ life has been a journey, she said, with one chapter that came to a close the night Kormondy was executed. Through it all, she still remembers the man she fell in love with.
Gary McAdams was athletic, a small town boy from Wilmer, Alabama, about 83 miles away from Pensacola, Florida, where he met and fell in love with Cecilia. Both worked for banks and were married for 10 years with no children.
Gary’s death was just the beginning of a series of hardships for his family, including the loss of his father to lung cancer less than a year after his murder.
Thomas McAdams, Gary’s younger brother, said his father died between the second and third trials in the murder case.
“He pretty much grieved himself to death,” he said.
Thomas said he has thought about his brother every day since his murder.
“I don’t think there’s ever any closure,” he said. “But there is a satisfaction. I felt at peace. It was time.”
On Nov. 24, 2014, Cecilia McAdams received a call with news that Governor Rick Scott had signed Kormondy’s death warrant.
“I was happy,” she said. “This was reality. We were getting to the end of this part of this journey. I wasn’t going to give them the satisfaction of ruining my life.”
She attended the execution in Starke, FL. with her in-laws and her boyfriend of eight years, Bob Sundius, a self-employed health insurance agent.
Cecilia McAdams has had long-term relationships since her husband’s murder but said she never gave dating a conscious thought.
Sundius, who knew of Cecilia McAdams and her experience before they met, said he was drawn to her determination and strength.
“She came across to me as a very strong, confident, determined woman,” Sundius said. “I really admired her for that.”
He said viewing the execution was a major life event for him.
“It was one of the top 10 events in my life,” he said. “I think I believe in God more because I saw the other side of God. [The side of] no remorse, no apology.”
While the memory of the night of her husband’s murder will stay with her forever, Cecilia McAdams said she’s made a choice to actively celebrate Gary’s life every day.
She created the Gary McAdams Sandshaker 5K Run/Walk and the Gary McAdams Memorial Scholarship, which is awarded every year to a male and female student at the Pensacola Sports Association‘s Senior Scholar-Athlete Awards Banquet in May. The 5K held in Gary McAdams’ name is a conduit for money to be raised that will go toward the scholarship.
Cecilia McAdams also speaks at the Citizens Law Enforcement Academy in Escambia County twice a year. She said she hopes she can continue to help others who are experiencing difficult moments in their lives just as she did.
“I’ve reached the end of my journey,” she said. “Some are just starting. I really thought I came away with not a lot of scars. I don’t believe that now. But I think there are scars that I can live with.”