GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The distraught father of Jessie Bardwell is headed to the trial of the man who is accused of her murder. Gary Bardwell has been waiting more than a year for this moment. The stress is almost too much to bear.
"It's torn our family apart," Bardwell said Sunday before boarding a plane. "It has literally torn our family apart."
Going to Texas for the trial of the man accused of murdering his daughter isn't something Bardwell wants to do. But, he said he has to go.
"I know way too much, and I've read way too much," Bardwell said. "But, I felt like it's my responsibility as her dad to do that."
This day makes it even harder to take.
"Today," Bardwell said through tears, "would have been Jessie's 29th birthday."
Jessie was reported missing May 9, 2016. Family members and friends held vigils and remained hopeful she would be found.
As part of his healing process, Bardwell wrote a song about his daughter.
"I just thought to myself, she was taken away from me, and I sat down with my keyboard and wrote the song in like five minutes. It just came to me."
He's allowing this story to be told on the CBS program "48 Hours."
"If this saves one girl and gives her enough strength to get out of a really bad relationship, it's done its job," said Bardwell.
He said community support has helped him through.
"I think that's what's kept me going. Of course, all I'm doing now is putting one foot in front of the other."
Although he can't go into trial specifics, Bardwell knows forgiveness isn't part of the plan.
"How do you forgive the devil? You tell me that."
Jury selection begins Monday in McKinney, TX. Bardwell said he and other family members will be there until the trial is over.