Fourteen years ago, while waiting for a plane to take me home from a POMC conference, I bought a short book in the airport to read on the way home. The name of the book was “The Present.” It was so simple and seemed to fit what I hoped would help other POMC members. It is always rousing to find something that might help. Conferences are a source of support that help co-victims of homicide know that they are not alone. Though there is so much pain at a conference, there is a feeling of love and empathy. You will never find this in quite the same way unless you are with other co-victims of homicide. Co-victims of homicide are the compassionate and most caring people one can ever meet. Their priorities are in the right place.
It is natural for a co-victim of homicide to give you a warm and loving hug. It does not matter if you have ever met the person before. It only matters that you are there for the same reason. You have had the worst possible thing happen to you. A loved one was murdered! Never in your life did you ever think that such a thing could happen. Never in your life did you think you would out live your own child! You are now the member of an inimitable group that you hope no one else will ever have to join. This group will change who and what you are. It will put you to your knees and leave an invisible mark on your very soul. If you do not believe in people having a soul, it can leave a mark in your very being. However, it leaves you with a special gift that makes you know what truly is important in the world. Other disappointments in life will pale in comparison. Homicide is “never ending.” It can leave us even afraid to love again.
Losing a loved one to homicide leaves us shaken and traumatized. Experts agree that it is the worst loss anyone will ever have to face. It goes against everything we have been taught. Those who have lost a loved one to homicide know that homicide can never be resolved. Again, our lives will never be as they were before the homicide. However, as humans we can make choices. This happens only in baby steps. Our loved ones can stay with us. Death does not take our love away from our loved ones or their love for us is not changed. In order to soften our pain, we must allow ourselves to grieve.
We will remember our loved ones because they are etched in our minds. They will continue with us and affect how we live and treat others. This is what love is all about. Love lasts forever. As time goes on, we slowly let others join our lives. At first, this seems impossible. It does not mean that they are taking the place of our loved one. It means that there are still things left for us to do. As humans, we continually change. We learn to live again by loving again. It is a compliment to our loved ones when we take others into our lives. Just think about the couples who have had a happy marriage for many years and one of them dies. Even though many of them are older, the one left behind will marry again. Humans are social beings. Letting others in our lives, compliments are loved ones. It does not mean they are replaced.
The author of “The Present” is Spence Johnson, M.D. He did not write this book especially for co-victims of homicide. Yet, it gives us the information we need to know that we can learn from the past. Never the less, it is not wise to live in the past. No matter what we do, we cannot change what has happened. We have only the present. This does not mean that we will ever forget our loved one. It means that we honor their memories by living. When we only think of our loved one’s death and how they died, the murderer takes another life besides the life of our loved one. We become their next victim.
Blaming ourselves because our loved one was murdered is common for co-victims. It is wiser to remember that we cannot know what someone else is thinking or planning. If someone decides to murder another person, we must remember that with all the security in the world, we are not even able to guarantee the safety of the President of the United States. It is through no fault of our own, that our loved one was murdered.
If we believe that murder is the worst of all crimes, we acknowledge that life is precious. Most people change their priorities after they experience the murder of a loved one. Each of us needs time to gain strength and peace from this abhorrent loss. By living one day at a time, we do not put as much pressure on ourselves. We soften our pain by allowing ourselves to grieve and honor the joy they brought into our lives. We will always miss them because we love them so much.
In my experience in working with co-victims of homicide, I have found that they are the most supportive people I have ever met. They will overlook their own pain to help other co-victims. Many members come to the meeting for years just to be there for the newly bereaved. They have also found a “perfect present.”
Though written like a parable, Spence Johnson sends us a profound message. We truly have only today. We cannot change the past or predict the future. Johnson wrote:
We are truly, what we are just the way we are. This is not what we were before the murder of our loved one. Sadly, what co-victims experience is the “depth of despair.” Our loved ones will not be back. We know how precious life is. If we take this knowledge one-step future, we see how important it is not to let the rest of our lives be pilfered as well.
It can be healing to take a day whenever possible to focus on the present. Do something that makes you happy. Reconnect with friends. If you love someone, tell him or her. I do! Hug someone. Hugs heal! I will tell you that because I am so involved with co-victims of homicide that I have to watch myself because I am so use to hugging people I just meet. When you meet a fellow co-victim, it is just natural. I can see and feel their pain. A human touch is like magic. It conveys understanding and love. How can you not love someone who is feeling the depth of despair and broken hearted?
Other things you might do is to treat yourself to a good meal. Buy something that you have been wanting. Read a good book or go to a movie. Send a note to someone to brighten a day. Johnson goes on to say that our future will be brighter if we make the present better. Give yourself a day to remember a wonderful moment you shared with your loved one. This is exceedingly hard, but not impossible. It is not that we do not have hundreds of wonderful moments. We can be so overcome by the scenario of our loved one’s murder playing over in our minds. Use the present to focus on what gives you hope for that day. The present can be a perfect time to remember a happy moment we had with our loved one. It can be hard work and takes time. You and your loved ones are so worth it…
May you have a “perfect present” everyday.
All my love, Mary Elledge
Tragically, each year there are 16,238 murders per year in the United States; this averages out to around 44 murders per day. The mission of The National Organization Of Parents Of Murdered Children, Inc. ( POMC) is to make a difference through on-going emotional support, education, prevention, advocacy, and awareness. POMC”s vision is to provide support and assistance to all survivors of homicide victims while working to create a world free of murder.
September 25th is the National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims. This commemorative day was established as a National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims as a result of unanimously passed resolutions by the U.S. Senate on October 16, 2007 (S. Res. 326) and the U.S. House of Representatives on May 14, 2007 (H. Res. 223).
POMC believes that honoring the memory of victims who have been killed by violence and acknowledging the resulting long-term trauma for families, communities, and the Nation, is an important way of promoting public awareness of the impact of violent crime and remembering our loved ones. POMC Chapters and other organizations will be holding events around the Nation to commemorate the Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims.
September 25th is significant because on that date in 1978, nineteen year old Lisa Hullinger was murdered while studying in Germany. Lisa’s parents, Robert and Charlotte Hullinger, founded Parents Of Murdered Children, Inc. POMC provides nationwide assistance to anyone who has lost a loved one to murder and hats over 60 chapters and 100 contact people throughout the United States.
The Portland Chapter would like to ask members to please send a short note or card to Lois and Lewis Hess in memory of the murder of their second child, Carol Ann Hess, on 12/17/2016. Their son, Stuart Hess was murdered in 1975. Lois and Lewis are eighty-nine and ninety-two years old. It is beyond comprehension to lose more than one child and even harder when we become senior citizens. To make matters worse, their daughter was murdered by her adopted son.
Their address is Lois and Lewis Hess, 800 A, Southerly Rd., Apt. 1021, Towson, MD 21286-8436. Thank you, for your kindness. The Hess family lives so far from us. We appreciate your help.
Monday, September 25, 2017 will be the National Day of Remembrance for our chapter. It will be held at Mt. View Cemetery. The cemetery is located at 500 Hilda St., Oregon City, OR, 97045. The memorial will start at 1:00 p.m. We will have our program; guest speaker will be District Attorney Josh Marquis, the reading of all of our loved ones’ names, music, and a free barbeque.
We will have our picture board displayed. If your loved one’s name is not on it, please send us a 4”by 6” picture. If it is raining and windy, we will not be able to put the pictures out. Send the picture to Mary Elledge, 14427 S. Forsythe Rd., Oregon City, OR 97045.
If you would like to donate to helping buy food for our barbeque, please mail it to the above address as well. Thank you so much for any help you can do. We will have the new names engraved on a special paper to go along side of our wall until we can get our wall finished. It will be a beautiful day for all of us and a chance to meet new members. It is our biggest event.
It is hard to believe that our National Day of Remembrance will soon be here. We are planning on a celebration at 1:00 P.M. on September 25, 2017. We will have a free barbeque after the ceremony so that we can visit and give our members a chance to meet one another and reunite with those we already know. Each of our loved ones names will be read out loud and we will have music. Ornaments depicting our theme, and copies of our theme song, “Thank you for Holding My Hand’ will be on sale. In addition, beautiful crotched angel ornaments can be purchased. All of the profits from these items will go to the building of our new memorial wall.
We will have the names of our loved ones that are not engraved printed on a special cardboard paper that looks like granite. These names will be placed in front of the wall. Our guest speaker is District Attorney Josh Marquis from Astoria, OR. He is an outstanding speaker and we are looking forward to him coming.
POMC Chapters will be holding events around the Nation to commemorate the Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims. POMC believes that honoring the memory of victims who have been killed by violence and acknowledging the resulting long-term trauma for families, communities, and the Nation is an important way of promoting public awareness of the impact of violent crime and remembering our loved ones. We also consider driving while drinking or on drugs that results in a death, vehicular homicide.
For our “Holiday Memorial on December 5th, if we do not have a picture of your loved one already, please mail or e-mail it to: Pat Schwiebert at 2116 N. E. 18th Street, Portland . OR 97212. Her e-mail is: email@example.com. Pat needs the pictures as soon as possible so she can include them in our slide show. Your loved one’s name will be read out loud even if we do not have a picture on our board.
We are so grateful to Pat and her family at “The Peace House”, where we hold our meetings. They spend hours decorating their home so it is beautiful for our holiday memorial. For many, this time is the most special day they have during the holiday season since the murder of their loved one. It is a safe place to be.
On behalf of the Greater Portland Area Chapter of Parents of Murdered Children, I would like to express our deepest appreciation to all of the generous people who have donated to the building of our addition memorial wall. We have a beautiful POMC Memorial now and families and friends from all over Oregon and Washington come to honor the memory of their loved ones who were so brutally taken from them. Sadly to say, our wall is completely filled. We have 500 names engraved on it.
What we are planning to do when we have enough funds is to build an additional wall that will hold 1000 more names. We have so many families who are waiting to add their loved ones’ name. It means so much to them because one of our greatest fears as a co-victims of homicide is that our loved one will not be remembered. They did not get to live the life they were suppose to. Some of the names on our wall belong to little babies to any age of adult. As co-victims, we have all suffered the same loss, the loss of a loved one to homicide. Our lives were completely changed. Homicide cannot be resolved.
What is also important is that we also educate the public when people come to see our wall. Murder can happen to any family. If people see the amount of people who are murdered, they will realize how important protection of society truly is. We need a justice system that works and laws for the protection of society. At POMC, we wish that people would never need our services. Sadly to say, we are getting more calls each day.
Co-victims of homicide need the peace and tranquility we are able to achieve at our POMC Memorial Wall. We are surrounded by beautiful sequoia trees, running water from the memorial, flowers, verses engraved on the stones that stand tall by the wall and a serenity that gives them hope and a place to gather and see that they are not alone.
We again ask for your help and thank those who have been so generous to our cause. If you would like to help, please go to the website of “Go Fund Me” and look under “POMC Memorial Wall”. All donations are appreciated and tax deductible. So many of our members are waiting to add their loved one’s name to the wall. Oregon has the largest POMC Memorial in the United States. Thank you for your help.
Funding for our new POMC Oregon/Washington Wall officially began this January, 2015. Members and friends of our chapter have been generous with donations and we are so thankful. Many of our new members are waiting for their loved ones names to be put on our new wall. We are listing new names that will be engraved when the wall is completed. We ask that members will call us, e-mail, or mail the information if you do not see your loved ones name on the list. The phone number is 503-656-8039, the e-mail is: firstname.lastname@example.org or POMC, 14427 S. Forsythe Road.
We are designing the wall now and hoping to build a wall that will accommodate more names than the existing wall. We want to list all of our loved ones
If any of our members work at a company or know of anyone who would like to make a donation please let us know or it is fine for you to ask for a donation yourself. We are a non-profit organization. Donations are tax deductible. Please use the phone contact numbers from the first paragraph of this article. Thank you so much for your support.
Aisha Kathleen Zughbieh-Collins
Amber Rhiannon Adams
Anthony Branch Jr.
Austin Joe Hrynko
Braylon Michael Duguay
Brian Elton Spaulding
Cheritee Yvonne Vance
Cheryl Elizabeth Hart
Christopher James Loftus
Coltin Jacob Salsbury
Craig C. Moritz Jr.
Dale Archie Brown
David G. Swapp Jr.
Dean Anthony Kuntz
Devan Chanel Schmidt
Douglas Oliver Benton
Glen Edward Drysdale
Harold Sloan Blanchard
Jason Michael Ell
Jason Dale Johnson
Jason Scott Williams
Jayme Sue Austin
Jeffery Ray Brown
Jessica Lynn Clark
Jodi Marie Brewer
Joseph Ben Peterson
Julio Cesar Marquez Jr.
Kathleen Lois Bauman
Kaylee Anne Sawyer
Keith Ardell Benefield
Kenneth Dylan Lambert
Kenzie Rose La Buy
Krystal Jaye Mitchell
Kyle Williams Peckham
Laura Jean Bohlen
London Grey McCabe
Lori G. Billingsley
Marcos Juan Castillo
Molly Irene McCarter
Nicolas Lamont Lawson
Nicolette Naomi “Nikki” Elias
Paul W. Miller
Rachelle “Shelly” Law
Randall Leo Gettman
Raymond Lee Myers
Rebekah “Becky” Selegue Johnson
Ryan Robert Jones
Sahara Grace Dwight
Savannah Danielle Munden
Steve Leroy Johnson
Stuart M. Hess
Thomas James Fite
William Roland Hatch III
Windy Kim Kimball
Braeden Anthony Kroeker
Luke Aiden Kroeker
(Please contact us if your loved one’s name does not appear on this paper and you would like to have it added. A form will be added to our newsletter each month to be used for adding names for the wall when it is completed. Please check the spelling of your loved one’s name and let us know if it is wrong. You can e-mail us at email@example.com, call 505-656-8039, or mail us at POMC, 14427 S. Forsythe Rd., Oregon City, OR 97045.)
LEE AND DELORES C.
DAVID AND FRANCES S.
LELAND AND HEATHER C.
DONALD AND CYNTHIA R.
KEITH AND PAT E.
The Greater Portland Chapter is proud to announce that Beth Greear has created a facebook support group for POMC members. To reach it use: www.facebook.com/groups/POMC.Portlalnd.Vancouver/ Beth said that there are several “admins” of the page so she is sure it will be very beneficial to anyone who would like to use it.
We cannot thank her enough for the chance to have even more support for our members. Beth is an outstanding person who is always there to reach out to help others. She even brought a delicious dessert for our December holiday meeting. We will be writing more on this next month and giving the names of other members who are helping with this project.
The murder of a loved one is the most horrific thing a person can experience. The only thing that can make it worse is a substandard initial investigation or not seeing justice in your case. Timely collection of evidence followed by an arrest and conviction would provide a degree of comfort, but what happens to co-victims when a thorough investigation is not done, and there is no arrest? Many of the victims' friends and acquaintances will gradually let go of their grief over time, but the closest of friends and family will remain in a state of sorrow, haunted by the injustice of investigators that may not have conformed to rules or standard operating procedures during their initial investigation. Not only is there no relief, but the agony of the event changes their lives forever, and becomes part of their very being. Co-victims' everyday battle becomes their effort to get a thorough investigation.
Helplessness is a gut-wrenching emotion which plagues co-victims who are not allowed to assist with the investigation and are longing for justice. We don't want to let our loved one down; we are compelled to fight for justice no matter how long it takes. As the process drags on, frustration grows. Many times, due to confidentiality, important conversations between co-victims and law enforcement are avoided, and this lack of communication can cause co-victims to feel neglected and disrespected, which often manifests itself in frustration, anger, and a loss of confidence in the investigators. Regular contact and truthfulness are two of the most important things survivors need from law enforcement. We need investigators to focus on routine communication of as much information as possible with sensitivity and without being misleading. Survivors’ perception that information is not being shared with them can result in them feeling they have been secondarily victimized. As the years pass, co-victims start wondering if their unsolved homicide could be reviewed by a fresh set of eyes, and they often look into getting their case to a cold case unit, only to find out that some jurisdictions don't even have a cold case unit. If there is a cold case unit in their jurisdiction, cases are evaluated and chosen according to a set of criteria. Co-victims whose cases seem to be continuously passed over for review become dismayed and even angry toward law enforcement. Anger can mobilize psychological resources for corrective action, but uncontrolled anger can negatively affect personal or social well-being.
Co-victims who put forth the effort to examine and understand the cold case process and various factors which must be dealt with during cold case investigations are able to put the process into perspective. They must understand that cold cases are among the most difficult and frustrating cases for both co-victims and law enforcement, and not every case is chosen to be investigated. It helps to review the following criteria checklist used by the National Sheriff’s Association, Justice Solutions and POMC:
Complete an application for cold case review. This application includes detailed information regarding agency reports, victimology, suspects/persons of interest, timeline, coroner, lab reports, investigation documents, weapon descriptions and media releases.
Co-victims should also be aware that closing rates can be more successful if investigators work only one or two cases at a time. At this point, if we find out that our case doesn’t qualify for review by a cold case unit, our only hope is that a thorough re-investigation will be done by homicide investigators.
If you have comments or questions about this article, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call Pat Kuiper at 702-809-8654 to get your loved ones' name listed in our newsletter. Feel free to contact Pat if you would like to share your story.
Lucy Eilertson (1998)
Diana Moffitt (1987)
Donald James Brown (2007)
Kimberly Larson Reames (1983)
William (Bill) Mark Stratton (2005)
The Greater Portland Chapter is so proud of our member, Amanda Harris, for launching her official site for siblings. Amanda is offering the Website: www.unitingsiblings.com so that sibling co-victims of homicide have a place to go where they will be understood and supported. This site will include video, chat, and telephone conference via a secure and private interface. Amanda is paying for the expenses and will be delighted to be another support for sibling co-victims. Amanda can also be reached at: Amanda@unitingsiblings.com or 623-866-3189.
Amanda Harris is now ready to start her web site for siblings. The Portland Chapter is excited about the support and understanding this new group will be for the many often overlooked survivors.
Please find, enclosed, $10.00 for my annual subscription (three issues) for the Survivors Newsletter.
(Please consider adding an extra subscription fee to help defray the cost for someone who cannot afford it.)
CITY, STATE, ZIP____________________________________________________________________
MAIL TO: POMC, INC. ENCLOSED IS MY: CHECK _________________
100 E. EIGHTH STREET, B-41 MONEY ORDER__________
CINCINATTI, OH 54202
Download form here
PRINTED NAME OF LOVED ONE_________________________________________ (This will be engraved on the wall)
LOVED ONE’S BIRTHDATE____________________________ DEATH DATE____________________________
MEMBER/FRIEND’S NAME AND ADDRESS ____________________________________________________________
MEMBER/FRIEND’S PHONE NUMBER_____________________________ Do you want a Newsletter? Yes No
SIGNATURE FOR PERMISSION TO
ENGRAVE NAME AND SPELLING APPROVAL_________________________________________________________
Please submit one form for each loved one. Please make efforts with other family members/friends to ensure multiple requests are not received for the same name. When completed, please mail, fax, or e-mail to the following places: POMC, Mary Elledge, 14427 S. Forsythe Road, Oregon City, OR 97045 or fax 503-656-4420, or e-mail: email@example.com. If you have any questions, please call 503-656-8039.
Download form here
Please Complete and Return to Memorial Garden,
POMC 14427 S. Forsythe Rd Oregon City, OR 97045
100% of Contributions are Tax Deductible
Name:____________________________________________ phone: __________________________
Gift in Memory of: __________________________________________________________
Anonymous gift (will not be recognized at the Memorial Garden or in published materials)
Method of Payment:
Credit Card #_________________________________________Exp Date:___________
Name on Card _________________________________________________________________
Pledged Payment (to be completed by December 31, 2014)
Please add notes on payment timing _________________________________________
Thank you for helping to create the Oregon-Washington Public Memorial Garden. Your generosity will never be forgotten.
Download form here
Tacoma Violent Crime Victim Services Welcomes Homicide Survivors
Peer Support Group Meeting
If someone you love has been the victim of a homicide, we invite you to attend our monthly support group meeting. You will find acceptance, compassion and support.
Place: United Way Building
3rd FLOOR CONFERENCE ROOM
Date: 3rd Wednesday of Each Month!
Time: 7:30PM – 10:00PM
The United Way Building is located in Tacoma, at 1501 Pacific Avenue. This is the same building that the VCVS office is located in. It is next to Union Station on the north side. As you pass Union Station you will see the United Way Building. Parking is on the south side of the building. Please park your vehicle in an open space and enter the building’s front entrance and take the elevator to the third floor. The conference room is Suite 312. Please call Lew Cox for more information (253) 383-5254.
POMC'S Court Watch Program is designed to help families maneuver through the court system. Two of the most important aspects of Court Watch are the prevention of any re-victimization to family members, and the minimizing of the emotional pain of going through hearings and trials.
If you would like support from POMC during hearings and trials or want to offer assistance, call Pat Elmore at 503-312-5681 or Allen Tremain at 503-522- 0577.
Each month a number of newsletter are returned due to delivery problems. In addition to the initial postage, return postage is charged by the Postal Service. To minimize this expense, please write to the return address of this newsletter or contact Gayle if your address changes or you no longer wish to receive this publication.