After losing a loved one to homicide, it is very common to feel despair. It seems that nothing will ever be right again. Those of us who have lost a loved one to homicide know this so well. Homicide cannot be resolved. You cannot bring a person back to life. Murder cannot be fixed. No one can fill the place of the one who was murdered. Yet, there are things we can do to get to a “new normal”. It takes a lot of work and trust in the resiliency of people to realize that none of our ancestors would have survived if they had not rid themselves of despair.
Despair is different from grief. According to the author of “Aftermath “, Carrie Freitag, “It is misery without hope.” Despair is a normal reaction to loss, but we do not have to give into it. If we are not careful, despair will grow and suck the very life from us. Ms. Frietag also believes that in order to rid ourselves of despair we must give in to our grief.
Over the years, as a chapter leader, I have seen this to be true. Crying is essential! Tears help wash away despair. We will be able to stop crying only when we have cried enough. If we give ourselves permission to cry, there will be a time that we do not have a need to cry. When we see people cry, we know that they care.
Our society also has unrealistic roles for people who have the need to grieve. I have heard people say that six weeks should be long enough for one to get on with their life after a murder. We will always love our loved ones who were murdered. When a person dies, it does not mean that we do not love them anymore. It is important for all of us to allow ourselves the courage to grieve. Grieving is like loving. Denying ourselves either emotion is like denying ourselves joy and happiness.
It would be better for all of us if we could wail when we are grieving as they do in other countries. Early
Indian culture would cut their fingers off to express their grief when a loved one died. This would be extreme, but is it worse to use alcohol, pills, not eating, or overeating as we deny ourselves the right to grieve? Death is a painful loss even when we are expecting it. Although I did hospice work, I still grieved
for the people who died. I loved them and I will always think of them. But, in all my experiences and in others who have lost loved ones, homicide is like no other loss.
When we remember our loved ones, we honor them. We honor them when we share the story of their life and that sadly includes the sharing of their death. If we let hope in our lives, our pain will soften. We don’t become vulnerable; we become hopeful and brave.
When a loved one is murdered, we go into a state of shock and disbelief. There is intense longing to have them back with us. In the beginning, it is impossible to imagine life without them. Life without them can be less painful though if we allow ourselves to grieve and find a “new normal”. It won’t be the same without them. To deny our pain would be to deny our love. This would be impossible.
By letting in others who want to help or who need help, we allow ourselves to grieve. We need to tell our story and listen to others. When we do this, we let life back into our lives. Sharing feelings fights off despair. Laughter comes into our lives when we look for it in others and we let it touch us. We rid ourselves of despair when we let the warmth of others come into our lives. When we let just a little of our surroundings touch us, we are moving toward a “new normal” also.
To rid ourselves of despair, we start with “baby steps”. It could be just noticing a sunrise or a sunset. Our world is beautiful. Take a trip to the beach and see the beauty of the sea. Visit a park or forest where there are trees and flowers. In the winter, look for an area in your state where there is snow. In other states, you may look for beauty in the desert areas.
Animals can bring comfort in a person’s life as well. When we move away from our despair, even for a moment, we are able to take the world back—one step at a time. Watch a bird fly or a squirrel play in the trees. Hug or pet a dog or cat.
When we start to notice the world around us, we cannot help but let it in. It is helpful to reach out to others who need help. Schools need volunteers to help children with reading, senior citizens need volunteers (meals on wheels, doing errands, or helping with simple tasks that others take for granted). It may seem hard at first to reach out to others, but this will help us get back into the world again.
Plant a garden or even a container plant. It represents life. Send a card or bring flowers to someone who is ill. All of this may seem hard when our minds are so full of the pain from the murder of our loved one. Getting rid of despair means ridding ourselves of the painful memories we have of the murder of our loved ones. Telling our stories until they stop playing over and over in our minds will be the greatest gift to ourselves. We must go through despair in order to get rid of it.
Learning new things and developing a better understanding of what we already know is also a wonderful way to enter back into life. Knowledge is a wonderful tool to use on our way to a new normal. There is a need to understand what we are going through. There is so much information about the aftermath of homicide, the justice system, grief, and how trauma affects our minds. We can help ourselves and others with the information we learn.
Pick the battles that will make you stronger on your journey through despair. Take care of yourself by resting when you need to rest. Always feel free to cry when you need to. But, what is most important is to laugh whenever you get the chance. It is even good to laugh at ourselves. Find people who are good
companions on this journey. You honor your loved one by going on. When you think of your loved one, let their life by a reminder of the strength you gained from loving them. Don’t let their murder be what comes to your mind when you think of them. By telling your story about the homicide until you don’t want to tell it anymore, you are making room in your mind for the memories that are the true reminders of your loved one. The murder is what was done to them. It is not who they were. Simon Wiesenthal, a Holocaust survivor said, “If we forget, it will happen again.” This is true. But, letting it destroy what you gained from your loved one will be an injustice to your loved one. Wiesenthal wanted justice for victims and murderers to be held accountable. This too is important for us to have in order to move on.
Oregon and Washington members of The Greater Portland Chapter will be celebrating the National Day of Remembrance to Honor Murder Victims this September 25, 2014. We will be celebrating it at the new Oregon/Washington Memorial Wall at 500 Hilda Street in Oregon City, Oregon, 97045. By seeing all of our loved ones names together, we are speaking out against violence and reaffirming that our loved ones will never be forgotten. Each name is a testimony of love and courage to those of us who are left behind. We hope you all will be able to join us. It starts at 1:00 p.m.
All my love and understanding,
Key Note Speaker: Josh Marquis, Clatsop County DA
Presentation of Colors
Reading of Our Loved Ones Names
Hosted Barbeque Afterwards
The Greater Portland Area Chapter
Is proud to share with you our new
Oregon and Washington Memorial Wall
(70 new names have been added.)
I am compelled to write to you. The unexpected gut wrenching emotion and tears as I read paragraph 5 of Melissa Davis’ letter, starting “The last two years have been so very tough to deal with.” I too, as we all have, suffered so much especially during the first two and one half years. I remember only being able to get out of bed to go to court in L.A. and POMC meetings.
Melissa’s letter brought back how heavy soap and a wash cloth was when showering—as if it could pull me to the floor. I forgot about these many “small” things that I would rather not remember. However, those feelings came flooding back all over again, reawakened by another experience. It never really goes away—just hides for awhile—until unleashed again.
(Dear Phoebe, thank you for your kind letter. Thank you also for sharing your pain. It helps co-victims to know that others understand and it validates their pain. It was kind of you to write. Love, Mary)
Shelley Dawn Elkins, born on May 31, 1968, was a beautiful twenty year old woman who had loving parents, Nina and Don Elkins, and a devoted loving sister, Sharon Christensen. Shelley was engaged and was living in own home with her fiancé when she was murdered on May 31, 1989.
Dail Ryan Yates waited for her fiancé, his cousin, to go to work early in the morning when he decided to murder Shelley. He strangled her. He showed no remorse. In fact, six months earlier he shot and killed a man in Estacada, Oregon. He was charged with the man’s murder and kept in jail until his trial. Unfortunately, he was found not guilty. He had claimed self-defense. It was less than a month later, that he murdered Shelley. For a family, it is unbearable to think that if justice had been handed out their daughter might not have been murdered.
After the murder of Shelley, Yates was found guilty and given life with the minimum of 25 years. On February 18, 2014, he was given a parole exit hearing. He had served his twenty-five years.
Shelley’s sister, Sharon, spent hours contacting people to write letters against Dail’s release and working with Victims Specialist Attorney Rosemary Brewer to get information and evidence that Dail Yates was a risk to society if he were let out. Ms. Brewer is an excellent attorney who is well prepared to assist victims trying to keep a murderer behind bars when they are likely to commit a crime again. Again, Mr. Yates was not sorry he murdered Shelley.
The Parole Board listened to both sides and ruled that Dail Ryan Yates should serve four more years. Many letters against his release were mailed in and eleven people were there to support Shelley’s memory. Ms. Brewer proved he was a risk. Shelley’s sister Sharon spoke as well.
As a chapter, we are proud of the Elkins family and all of those who helped keep a murderer in prison longer to protect society. We also offer the Elkins’ family our deepest sympathy and support. Your daughter Shelley would be proud. Your actions are protecting society. Shelley is and will always be remembered. We would also like to thank Rosemary Brewer for an excellent job as well as the Board of Parole and Debbie Wojciechowski, Victim Specialist . Debbie is excellent in helping co-victims of homicide go through the painful experience of revisiting the murder of their loved one.
September 25th is a very special day;
We will be honoring victims of homicide
whose lives were so cruelly taken away.
We will remember that violence has no
Place in our land;
We join each other when we reach out our hand.
Remembering their loved ones is all families
And friends have left;
The stealing of a life is the worst kind of theft.
We will light candles to honor
Loved ones gone;
It is remembering that enablers survivors to
Violence against even one person should
Never happen again;
It reduces our humanity and causes no one to win.
By uniting, we say that this is not the way;
If we do not, violence will forever stay.
If we forget these tragedies,
They will happen to others;
So many have lost children, fathers, friends, sisters
By remembering, we are connecting with others
In their grief;
It is in connecting with others that we can find
It is important for all of us to play a part;
Helping makes a difference
When it comes from the heart.
Please remember to mark down
The twenty-fifth day of September;
We honor homicide victims
When we remember!
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: email@example.com 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)
MARYALICE G. AND RICH U.
GWEN J. K.
THE GREATER PORTLAND CHAPTER IS NOW FUNDING FOR THE NEW WALL FOR OUR MEMORIAL GARDEN. WE APPRECIATE ANY AMOUNT OF HELP ANYONE CAN DO. AFTER THE NEXT NAMES ARE ADDED, WE WILL HAVE TO WAIT UNTIL THE NEW WALL IS COMPLETED TO ADD NEW NAMES. THE NEW WALL SHOULD GIVE US MANY YEARS TO ADD ADDITIONAL NAMES. THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR SUPPORT. WE APPRECIATE ANY HELP WE RECEIVE. DONATIONS CAN BE SENT TO THE FOLLOWING ADDRESS: POMC, 14427 S. FORSYTHE RD. OREGON CITY, OR 97045.
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.
We are continuing to accept donations for our Memorial Garden and are very close to reaching our goal. Thank you to all that have already donated and to those that have not, please consider making your donation today. Please send your tax deductible donations to:
Parents Of Murdered Children
14427 S. Forsythe Rd.
Oregon City, OR 97045
If you have questions, please contact Mary Elledge at (503) 656-8039.
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 spelling will be used)
MEMBER/FRIEND’S NAME AND ADDRESS _________________________________________________
MEMBER OR FRIEND’S PHONE NUMBER __________________________________________________
(Required to verify order)
SIGNATURE FOR PERMISSION TO ________________________________________________________
ENGRAVE NAME AND SPELLING APPROVAL
Please submit one form for each loved one. Please make efforts to confer with other family members/friends to ensure multiple requests are not received for the same loved one. When completed, please mail to:
POMC, 14427 S. Forsythe Rd., Oregon City, OR 97045. The names will then be submitted for engraving on the Memorial Wall at the Mountain View Cemetery and Park. If you have 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
Turning pictures and home movies into a unique video you will treasure for a lifetime.
Tina Tanner 541-510-3075
Tana Tanner 541-935-2023
PO Box 343, Elmira, OR 97437
(Tana Tanner is a member of POMC. Prices are very reasonable for POMC members.)
We would like to get to know your loved one and gain and understanding of their lives, achievements, accomplishments, goals, and personalities. We’d like to celebrate the LIFE of our loved ones rather than remain in the pain of their death. If you would like to share a unique story about your loved one, please submit a short (1 page) letter telling us about them. Some possible ideas to include are:
Their favorite food, movie, book, and why
Their most successful accomplishment
A funny childhood story/experience
Their most exciting vacation
A unique talent
Their most prized possession
Their favorite school subject or teacher
Their educational/professional goals
A personal goal they planned to fulfill
An obstacle they overcame
A school play they may have performed in
Their favorite season/holiday
Please include your contact information as well as their full name and birth date. Thank you.
Please also include a picture of your loved one, if possible. Please keep in mind that we cannot guarantee that your photograph will be returned to you.
Please mail submissions to:
Portland Area Chapter
Parents Of Murdered Children
And Other Survivors Of Homicide Victims
14427 S. Forsythe Road
Oregon City, OR 97045
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 newsletters 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 the newsletter or contact Erin at Hondaerin2@aol.com if your address changes or you no longer wish to receive this publication.