Growing Up on The Sonshine Farm
I grew up in a community in Ringgold, Virginia known as the Sonshine Farm. "The Farm" had a lot of notoriety in the Ringgold and Danville area, many people believing it was a cult. While it was not a cult, it was started by a group of Christian people (my parents being two of them) in the 1970s who purchased some land with the old schoolhouse pictured here and many acres surrounding the house, 400 acres to be exact. They then set about remodeling this old house, building a church next to it and then building their owns homes on the surrounding land. I grew up just three houses down from this one, and this was also where I attended kindergarten and first grade before the school had to be closed.
I was just a baby when the Sonshine Farm fell apart, so to speak. The community was rocked with scandal, many of the original members left and the church changed its name to Ringgold Christian Fellowship. It was at this time that I remember Patty Jo and Rick Pulley becoming part of our church family, heading up the praise and worship team. Rick became an associate pastor and he and Patty Jo lead the youth group, which I was a part of, and eventually moved into this very house pictured here.
"What Do You Mean She's Missing??"
This Can't Be True
Those were the exact words I uttered when I heard the news after getting the call from my mom telling me that Patty Jo was missing. It was May of 1999 and I was a sophomore in college; my mom told me that Patty Jo had gone shopping a few days earlier and had never returned. Her truck had been found on the side of the road just a few miles away from her home. She wouldn't be found for three years.
Photo by Rodney Williams, used with permission.
Patty Jo Was A Major Influence on Me Growing Up
As I said earlier, Rick and Patty Jo were in charge of the youth group. They conducted the Wednesday night meetings in their home and took us on summer vacations, missionary trips etc. Patty Jo and I became even closer when she began teaching piano lessons and I eagerly signed up to be a student. I admired her musical skill so much and longed to be half the piano player she was.
After the details of her relationship with Rick were made public I wished I would have noticed the signs of abuse. I do remember a tension in the air if Rick would come home during one of my piano lessons and she would often excuse herself to go talk to him behind closed doors, leaving me to practice my scales. I was just too young and naïve to see that anything was wrong.
Kiss and Kill
Hearing Her Voice Again
Thanks so much to David Campbell for submitting this link to three songs performed by Patty Jo Pulley and her infamous husband. April 2014 Update: Apparently this link no longer works unless you create an account at this website. I am leaving the link for those of you who may be willing to do so.
When Patty Jo Died, So Did Rick
As I Knew Him
I remember Rick as a nice, funny man who could play the guitar and would make up songs about frogs. I always enjoyed listening to him sing and play, and I even found his sermons to be interesting. I did know that many of the boys in the youth group, my brother included, eventually stopped going and stated that Rick was not a nice person, to put it nicely. I never really understood what their problem with Rick was, but now I know that they must have seen a side to him that I never saw.
After Patty Jo's disappearance, Rick's indiscretions began to be revealed. He was embezzling money from the church and having an affair. While I cannot confirm this, rumor had it that Patty Jo knew about the affair and was planning on leaving him, which is what made Rick snap. When I was told that he was suspected of being responsible for her disappearance I was shocked, but I never really doubted it. There are people who stood by him and still believe he's innocent, but I am not one of those people.
In a way, I am also mourning the loss of Rick.
Photo by Rodney Williams, used with permission.
- She was kind
- She was beautiful, inside and out
- She was an amazing musician
- She was a patient teacher
- She was my friend
- Clipart from Clipartheaven.com
Clipartheaven.com beautiful full colour free clipart, over 22,000 free clip art images
Leave a Comment For Patty Jo - Whether You Knew Her or Not
Don Nichols on November 29, 2018:
My family too was unsure of the Sonshine farm until i got to know several of the other kids and became good friends. I went to this very house whe it was the school. I only was able to attend one year, 7th grade before the school closed. I actually worked in the summer mowing the apple orchards and surrounding grounds around the church and cleaning the pool. The Pulleys were a big inspiration when i met them and never saw anything like this coming. I miss this place and the friends i made growing up here.
nomabeth on March 23, 2016:
I still get chills and it hurts to remember the times spent with the two. Rick and Patty Jo where close friend of my family and this breaks my heart, for everyone involved .. No doubt she is in a better place.
anonymous on August 25, 2013:
This is so sad and tragic. I am so sorry about what happened to Patty Jo. She sounds like a lovely person. What a terrible end to a beautiful life, and at the hands of her husband, a pastor. I used to come to the Farm with my sister a long time ago. I hope that Rick feels remorseful over what he did, and thinks of Patty during his long tenure in the hoosegow. I was shocked to read about Patty's murder, and had never heard this story until now. My Dad never wanted me to go to the farm, and called it "the funny farm." I never knew Patty, but I'm sorry for her, her family, and for her friends.
cocomoonbeams (author) on August 18, 2013:
@anonymous: Zeke, I remember you well... and those water balloon fights were epic! I was just thinking of how much fun those were the other day.
Your dad is a noticeable name in the court transcripts... and I am sorry to hear of his passing.
Thanks for sharing.. it is nice to have the input of someone who was closer to than Rick and Patty Jo than I was.
anonymous on August 16, 2013:
I grew up less than a mile from the Pulley's and knew them from my first memories. As a child in "Jet Cadets" I remember counting the days till I was old enough to join the youth group and fight in the water balloon wars and go to the sleep overs in the church basement and mission center. you can find me in the photo posted on this page in front of the farmhouse. I ate watermelon and home made ice cream on the front deck of the church and had buddy partners on the Wednesday summer swim nights at the pool. Uncountable hours were spent and the basketball court playing with the guys and sometimes when rick was up for it. He was a pretty good player and it was a great challenge to guard him.
It was really a unique and great childhood experience in those younger innocent years.
Innocence was torn away the morning I woke up after coming in late from an away basketball game my senior year of high school when my mom came to my room to tell me Patty Joe did not come home the night before. I remember driving the streets of Danville for hours looking for her or any evidence that might lead us to her. Then their red ford truck was found just a half mile from our house on a side road. My dad spoke with a neighbor who saw rick walking back from the truck to the house that night and that was when we started to realize what had happened. I remember seeing the Rick the day after she was gone, walking like a zombie around the church not saying much and not really doing anything to help.
Innocence was ripped away in just a few short days. Rick not only killed a precious soul but tore the heart out of a community that was still tender from previous wrongdoing.
Thanks for sharing this page and let the children dance again
anonymous on June 21, 2013:
Hi I just watched an episide on the investigation discovery channel on Patty Jo and was lead to read more about her life. You have done an amazing job documenting how beautuful and inspiring she was. Although her life was cut short, im pretty sure if she knew the affect she had on your life she would shed tears:) Im reminded about a song I often heard in church, "If I never pass this way again just remember the times, how good it's been and lets not forget those who made it possible just remember that its been wonderful". Stay encouraged and continue to keep the flame that she put in your life burning:)
anonymous on May 16, 2013:
I am reading this in disbelief! For some reason, I was thinking about Rick's song about the swamp revival and I did a search on it, but found nothing. I was then trying to remember Rick's last name and his wife's name - which popped into my head, so I did a search on the names. When the articles about Patty Jo being murdered showed up, I thought, what a coincidence that this couple has the same names, but then when I came upon your memory page, I knew that the articles were about the Rick and Patty Jo I remembered! Back in the mid '80's, I volunteered at a Christian coffeehouse, and Rick and Patty Jo were one of our favorite out of town musicians that we booked. I was drawn to Patty Jo's sweetness. Jesus truly shined through her! I am so sorry that her life and her beautiful voice were taken away from us, but I know that she is in heaven with Jesus and that she is not suffering any more. She truly loved Jesus! When she would sing "Lord, You are more precious than silver; Lord, You are more costly than gold! Lord, You are more beautiful than diamonds; and nothing I desire compares with You!" I knew that she was singing a love song to Jesus! Thank you for setting up this page so that I could share this wonderful memory of Patty Jo!
anonymous on May 10, 2013:
Rick and PJ made several trips to Romania. They were in Cluj, Romania for 3 weeks, just a month or so before she went missing. At the time my wife and I were living in Romania as missionaries and considered them our best friends. They even talked about moving there with us. On one of their trips we visited a 12 year old girl named Petrunela. She was beautiful but had an infection in her leg that swelled up like a watermelon. I saw Rick cry over her like a little baby. She died soon after our visit. It's hard to believe a man with such a tender heart can be so evil also. When I visited Rick in the States I tried to help him as much as I could not knowing the real story. The investigators tried to interview us but we were always out of the country. I received an email from Patty Jo just before she went missing apologizing for not writing often and mentioned Rick was outside planting flowers. Things seemed so normal... I still have one of the few remaining cassette tapes of their album "Lifegiver".
cocomoonbeams (author) on March 12, 2013:
@anonymous: I agree.. she had many people she could have turned to for support if she decided to leave Rick. Maybe she knew what he was capable of if she decided to, and the worst part is, she was right, because I truly believe she was in the process of leaving when she died.
anonymous on March 11, 2013:
I was in school with Patty Jo from first grade until graduation. She led everyone to believe they were so in love and that they had the perfect marriage. I was devastated when she was reported missing and it really hurt to learn that Rick had murdered her. I wish she had not put on such a good front. She had a wonderful family support system that would have welcomed her back with them. It makes my heart ache to think of the abuse she must have lived with each day.
Renaissance Woman from Colorado on March 08, 2013:
I appreciate a heart that would create a tribute to a beautiful individual. It makes me ache that Patty Jo was lost to these circumstances and to what had to be a painful situation. We never really forget those influential mentors and friends that nurture us. We carry them within. I know I do. Thank you for keeping Patty Jo's memory alive.
anonymous on March 05, 2013:
I didn't know Patty Jo, but from listening to the 3 songs provided I can tell that Patty Jo had a beautiful voice. It also shines through that she had a beautiful spirit. I think her family and friends will see her again. I only hope I have the privilege of meeting her for the first time.
anonymous on March 02, 2013:
Its an honor to stop by here again, and see your lens doing so well. This had to be written from a heart of love for Patty Jo.
anonymous on March 02, 2013:
This is a wonderful website dedicated to a wonderful woman. I am sorry for your loss, and apparently, the world's loss.
Lorelei Cohen from Canada on February 27, 2013:
What a moving tribute to a very amazing woman. Far too many lives are lost to family violence and it is indeed a tragedy that must stop.
cocomoonbeams (author) on January 28, 2013:
@anonymous: Thanks so much for the link, David. I am so happy I can share her voice with everyone. I remember each of the songs on the site, too, so it brings back many memories.
anonymous on January 28, 2013:
Yes they gave a concert in our town Johnson City, TN and stayed at our home.
anonymous on December 28, 2012:
Patty Jo, I wish I'd known. When I met you guys at 16, I thought you were the perfect couple. Now at 43, I know there is no such thing. I miss you so much and I'm so sorry.
anonymous on September 12, 2012:
I came to Sonshone Farm in 1976 and was married there, we left shortly after the "Peter" incident, Iâm sure I know your parents. It has always amazed me that in one little patch of land, in the middle of nowhere, so much drama could occur. However, like in most thing in life no one or nothing is either all bad or all good. I am so pleased that you have been able to take away good memories and leave the bad behind. May God bless you.
anonymous on September 12, 2012:
@cocomoonbeams: I came to Sonshone Farm in 1976 and was married there, we left shortly after the "Peter" incident, Iâm sure I know your parents. It has always amazed me that in one little patch of land, in the middle of nowhere, so much drama could occur. However, like in most thing in life no one or nothing is either all bad or all good. I am so pleased that you have been able to take away good memories and leave the bad behind. May God bless you.
Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on September 10, 2012:
A very touching tribute to a great person.
cocomoonbeams (author) on June 10, 2012:
@anonymous: Hello, David. Yes, you are correct in assuming that it was Patty Jo singing those songs... she would be killed the following year. I also know Jamie and his wife, Angela. Actually, Angela taught me piano lessons after Patty Jo was forced to quit, until Angela no longer had time to teach anymore. I have fond memories of Angela and Patty Jo playing amazing piano duets at our piano recitals... that was always my favorite part of the night. I am so glad to hear that Patty Jo touched you and made an impression on you, and I would love to hear those tapes! Thanks so much for your comment.
anonymous on June 08, 2012:
I read this page in absolute shock and disbelief. My son showed me a Bible verse he is memorizing with his Sunday school class that reminded me of a song I had not heard in a very long time. The verse is Zephaniah 3:17
"The Lord your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.â
That led me to try to find a recording of the song. All I could find was the instrumental version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJrmZGHSuSg&... Then, I scratched my head to remember where I had learned this song and realized it was Ringgold Christian Fellowship. The Lord saved me mightily and out of nowhere in 1996 when I was 17, the fall of my senior year, and I learned about Ringgold from my friend, Jamie, who I worked with. A friend of mine (named Chris, I believe), who also worked at the same steakhouse, and I traveled from Roxboro to Ringgold together. It was a total culture shock going there from the formal, liberal church life I was used to. It was likewise for my friend who came from the conservative, somewhat-formal-Baptist church background. We didn't know what to think at first when the worship team sang "Let the Children Dance" and out from the rows the children came forward holding hands in one large group and singing and dancing along. It was a total culture shock, but it was obvious the hearts of the people were honoring to the Lord, and for the first time in my life I experienced what I would call a genuine corporate worship experience. I don't much remember the preaching, but I do remember the worship, and an indelible mark was made in my soul from those precious times of worship.
"I sing a simple song of love to my Savior, to my Jesus.
I'm grateful for the things You've done,
my loving Savior, oh precious Jesus.
My heart is glad that you've called me Your own.
And there's no place I'd rather be
than in Your arms of love, in Your arms of love,
holding me still, holding me near in Your arms of love."
- "Arms of Love" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MPZVF7FoM24).
These are songs I'll probably always have tucked away in my heart. When what I have just read today (for the very first time) hits me as I know it will, I will be left again in absolute shock disbelief and probably many, many tears. This is a very deep tragedy in every way and my heart goes out to you and the people and families of Ringgold. Although I never really connected with the church beyond coming to a service once or twice a month, the people were there were very dear to me. Something about sharing moments in the very real presence of God with others causes you to appreciate them a lot more than you normally would. I'm sure you know my friend, Jamie. He was the drummer in those days. I haven't seen him since then, but somewhere (if they are not melted from heat or ruined from mildew) I believe I have audiotape copies of the worship practices. He gave them to me because I was hungry for anything that was truly edifying and honoring to the Lord Jesus, and I listened to them again and again. I don't believe I accidentally stumbled across this website today. Just today the Lord showed me that some of the things I may think of as being random accidents may really be Him leading me or teaching me or helping me along. So, with that fresh in my mind, I believe there is a reason I was brought to learn of this tragedy and visit your page. May Patty Jo's memory be honored. May true healing come to all the people of this church. Above all, may the Lord Jesus receive glory! From what you have written, I believe it is safe to assume that it was Patty Jo with a microphone in her hand singing the lyrics I wrote above the very first time I heard that song. So, I want to encourage you that Patty Jo's greatest possible wishes and desires have come true: from the moment she left this earth up to now and until we join her around the throne for all eternity, she has been loving her Savior, expressing her gratitude to Him, filled with the fullness of joy of being called to Him to be in His presence, and fully enraptured in His loving arms of love. I will try to find those tapes for you. Blessings to you,
Virginia Allain from Central Florida on March 12, 2012:
How hard it is to lose someone that you looked up to. How sad that it happened in this way. That makes it a double tragedy. Your page does honor to her memory.
anonymous on February 28, 2012:
Patty Jo will be remembered well by this tribute. :)
Mary Beth Granger from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA on February 14, 2012:
Beverly Rodriguez from Albany New York on February 13, 2012:
Touching and well done lens.
anonymous on February 13, 2012:
Hi it's nice to meet you and thank you for sharing your story, people like Rick always fool people they are masters at it. I am sorry for your friend she sounded lovely
Barbara Radisavljevic from Templeton, CA on February 11, 2012:
Such a sad ending to a life you have portrayed as kind and helpful. I cry for all the patty Jos of this world.
lyttlehalfpint from Canada on February 08, 2012:
Touching and beautiful dedication to someone you care about ... it shines through your words. Great lens
anonymous on February 07, 2012:
Nice to meet you of the RocketSquid quest, this is a nice dedication
flicker lm on February 06, 2012:
Thanks for sharing your love for your friend Patty Jo. And I understand what you mean about losing Rick, too. Sometimes it's hard to believe that someone you thought you knew turned out to be different person than you realized.
Ann Hinds from So Cal on February 06, 2012:
Thanks for sharing this story. How very sad and what a loss. You cannot be expected to see what you have no knowledge about and you were too young to understand the signs. The lens is well done and a great tribute to your friend.
MartieG aka 'survivoryea' from Jersey Shore on February 06, 2012:
So very sad but good that you are getting the word out that there are places that can help those that need it. Nice tribute to your friend.
anonymous on February 06, 2012:
Wonderful tribute lens. Such a sad story.