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Lockerbie widow: Gadhafi death ends chapter

FLORAL PARK, NY, October 20, 2011---Gabriele Della Rippa

FLORAL PARK, NY, October 20, 2011---Gabriele Della Rippa is shown inthis 1968 family handout photo. Della Rippa was among those killed in the bombing of a Pan Am jetliner over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988. (Handout Photo) Credit: Photo by

The Floral Park widow of a Lockerbie bombing victim wept Thursday after former Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, who ordered the downing of Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988, had been killed by rebels.

"Last night, I had some kind of premonition," said Luisa Della Ripa, whose husband, Gabriele Della Ripa, died when a bomb exploded on Flight 103, killing all 259 people aboard and 11 people on the ground.

Della Ripa said she slept late and turned on her television to watch "The View" when she learned of his death. More than an hour later, she was still crying.

"I thought, 'Oh, my God, someone is telling me he's gone . . .' I'm about to turn 70, and I thought I was never going to see it, but God let me see it. I'm at peace," she said.

Relatives of other victims of the bombing of Flight 103 expressed similar relief.

Gadhafi, the deposed leader of Libya, acknowledged responsibility and paid millions of dollars in damages for each of the people killed in the bombing, which crashed in Lockerbie, Scotland, while flying from London to New York. Most of those killed on the packed Boeing 747 were Americans and many were from the New York region, including several Long Island residents.

A Libyan intelligence agent, Abdel Baset Ali al-Megrahi, was convicted as the mastermind. He was released from a Scottish prison in 2009 on compassionate grounds and returned to Libya. His whereabouts is unknown.

But Gadhafi was found and killed by rebels Thursday.

"Millions of souls are waiting for him up there," Della Ripa told Newsday through tears. "He killed a lot of people. . . . I'm not going to jump for joy, because I'm not that kind of person. The chapter is closed. It's over. That's how I feel."

Susan Cohen lost her daughter, Theodora Cohen, 20, of Long Beach, in the bombing.

"I would get up each day and run to the computer and look up any news articles about what was going on with him: reading, reading, reading every day, waiting for this," said Cohen, of Cape May Court House, N.J.

After hearing of Gadhafi's death, she remembered the promise she made to herself long ago. "I'm just going to go out and buy an expensive bottle of champagne to celebrate," she said.

Kara Weipz, of Mount Laurel, N.J., was stunned to learn of Gadhafi's death. Her brother, Richard Monetti, 20, was one of several Syracuse University students aboard Flight 103.

Weipz said she was feeling "relief, knowing he can't hurt and torture anyone else."

"For 20-some years," she said, "I never thought this day would come. The world is a better and safer place today."

Although Gadhafi's death marks progress, Weipz said it still doesn't close the book on Lockerbie.

"Ultimately, the one thing I hope is he had evidence on him," she said. "All the families really want to know the truth of how this happened. That has been our motto since 1988, and it remains our motto in 2011."

Bert Ammerman of River Vale, N.J., whose brother, Tom, died in the bombing, said Thursday was a day he had longed for.

"I never thought I would see the day this man, this coward, would no longer be part of the world population," he said. "I can say today with a great deal of satisfaction that my brother and the other 269 people that were massacred on Dec. 21, 1988, did not die in vain."

Cohen said she spent an anxious morning devouring reports that initially hinted -- but could not confirm -- that Gadhafi was dead.

"This was sort of like Dracula: Is Dracula really dead?" she asked. "It's great now that we know. I didn't want him to go to a trial. When you have a tyrant, a monster like him, we're all better off with him dead. Now there can be no illusion of him ever returning to power." With AP

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