When the 2015 Conference Committee decided on the theme, “Remember the Past; Treasure the Present; and Embrace the Future”, I was so pleased. Over the years, I had written several articles about the book, “The Precious Present”. The author of this book, Spencer Johnson, seemed to capture what so many of us might be able to use that would help us back to a “new normal”. Now I was not only excited about this theme being used for the 2015 Conference, I hoped that it would also be a catalyst that would help co-victims who were struggling to make it one day at a time.
Looking back in past articles, I found that in 2011, the National Center for Victims of Crime and the Office for Victims of Crime partnered together to present that year’s National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. “Reshaping the Future, Honoring the Past” was there theme. This theme captured the dreams that victims and those who serve victims wanted to convey to our society. By reshaping they wanted to address crimes that changed victims and co-victims lives. They wanted to help victims regain a “new normal”.
The more we know about homicide, the more we can improve on “best practices” to help balance our justice system. By knowing the ramifications of homicide and where we need to spend time and money, we can all work together to “Reshape the Future”. In 2011, the National Center for Crime and the Office for Victims of Crime also wanted to “Honor the Past” by being inspired and recognize those who have given and accomplished so much for victims and co-victims.
Twelve years ago, I found the book, “The Perfect Present”, while waiting in the airport to come home from a conference. Even then, I thought that it would be a good topic for one of our monthly newsletters. On the flight home, I read the book. It was everything I hoped it would be. “The Precious Present” helped me feel that there is hope. I felt that maybe this book, though not written for co-victims of homicide, might have a message for co-victims.
Losing a loved one to homicide leaves us shaken and in shock. Experts agree that it is the worse loss anyone will ever have to face. It goes against everything we were ever taught. Co-victims not only suffer from the loss of their loved one, they think of things they could or should have done in the past or not done that might have resulted in their loved one not being murdered. Personally, I would think of trips and family gatherings we would be having if my son had not been murdered. I would think of his wonderful girlfriend and the grandchildren that would be in our lives if he were here. Now, none of this would ever come to be. I, like my POMC friends, will never see my loved one in my life time. But, I did find that if I just had the present to worry about, I would have less worries.
After reading Spencer Johnson’s book, I knew that my feelings about it helping co-victims of homicide were correct even thought it had nothing to do with homicide. The author, Spencer Johnson, had everything a man could want. He had a happy childhood, impressive accomplishments, a degree in psychology, membership in National Honor Society in philosophy and psychology, an MD from the Royal College of Surgeons, medical training at the Mayo Clinic and Harvard Medical School, and authorship of many books.
He had a wonderful family. And before his fortieth birthday, over a million copies of his book in print. Despite this privileged life, he was unhappy. Something was missing. I don’t mean to compare this situation--one in which he seemingly had everything in the world except peace of mind—to that of a co-victim of homicide. But, we can learn from others ways to find happiness.
Our losses are complex. We do not deserve what happened to us anymore then our loved ones deserved being murdered. Losing our lives or the joy in our life will not do anything to bring our loved ones back. Allowing ourselves to grieve, finding people who understand and will listen, and knowing as much as we can about complicated grieve will get us closer to a “new normal”.
Though written like a parable, Spencer Johnson’s book sends us a profound message. We truly have only today. We can’t change the past or predict the future. Part of his parable goes as follows:
The present has nothing to with wishing…….
The present is not something that someone gives to you…….
When you have the present you will be perfectly
Content to be where you are…….
It is something you give yourself……
The richness of the present comes from its own source…….
The present is simply who I am
Just the way I am
and it is precious……
What Johnson tells us is to learn from the past, but it is not wise to live in the past. The past was when our loved ones were murdered. We need to give ourselves permission to think of just today. When we focus on the murder, it is committed again and again. Some of this is related to symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder and it is out of our control unless we get help. “The “precious present” gives us a safe place to be. It allows us a day of healing.
Spencer is telling us that it is wise to think about the future and to prepare for it. But, it is not wise to be in the future because if we do, we lose our self. If you believe that murder is the worst of all crimes, you believe that life is precious. I have never met a survivor of homicide who has not changed his or her priorities. We all have learned that we may never have more than today.
The present is the only sure thing. Living is accepting it and experiencing it. This will allow us to live and find happiness in a day even if we have to do it one day at a time. We cannot change what is. We cannot know what is going to happen. We need not feel guilty about the past. Today is all we have to be concerned with in order to ease our grief and pain.
Each of us needs a day to gain strength and peace from the loss of a loved one. We can do it by remembering “The Precious Present”. Give yourself this special gift this year. We owe it to our loved ones and ourselves. They would want us to live our lives to the fullest and remember them without being sad. Let the happy memories shared with them fill your heart.
So please remember that the present is right now and we do not have to worry about the past or about the future. The past is over and the future is yet to come. Taking one day at a time reduces the amount of stress we are having to deal with.
Again, I would like to challenge all of our members and POMC Chapters across the United States to join together and meet in Las Vegas for 2015 POMC National Conference on July 30 to August 2nd. The theme of the conference is similar to this article, “Remember the Past, Treasure the Present and Embrace the Future”. We hope that it can be as healing as the book, “The Precious Present”. As part of the conference committee, I am looking forward to seeing and being with fellow POMC members.
All my love,
LORI AND RICK W.
WALTER AND LANITA B.
JULIE W. AND ALOHA N.
STANDARD INSURANCE COMPANY
Survivors of Murder and Vehicular Homicide will celebrate “Krystle Rose Cook Remembrance Day on Monday, December 19, 2015 at the Columbia County Court House, 230 Strand Street, St. Helens, Oregon. This will be the 12th celebration for Krystle Rose Cook. The Cook family has also included remembering all victims of homicide and vehicular homicide. The Greater Portland Chapter of POMC also supports this day and will be joining in supporting with Survivors of Murder and Vehicular Homicide.
The event will start at 1:00 P.M. and will include a short speech, balloon release (with a note to each of our loved ones), and refreshments. The public is welcome to attend and all survivors of homicide can come and honor their loved ones on this special day. For more information, please call Delores Cook at 360-425-8658 or 360-751-8658. This is wonderful time to honor those who have been so cruelly taken from us.
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.
Oregon Board of Parole and Post Prison Supervision
2575 Center ST NE
Salem, OR 97310
Dear Oregon Board of parole and Post-Prison Supervision:
Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Mary Elledge and I am Chapter Leader of the Greater Portland Area Chapter Of Parents Of Murdered Children (POMC). I am honored to write this letter for Shirlene Guthrie, mother of Gregory Guthrie. I have known the Guthrie family since the murder of their beloved son, Gregory. Gregory was murdered on 9/27/91. It changed the lives of all who knew and loved him. He had devoted parents and two brothers, Michael and Raymond. Gregory’s father, Tom Guthrie, was tormented by the murder of his beloved son as well. He passed away a few years ago and never was the same after the murder of Gregory.
The Guthrie family has worked tirelessly in helping other families who are members of POMC. Shirlene is a member on our POMC Chapter Board. We would like to express our concern over the release of the murderer, Brandon Raymond Lee. Brandon Lee shot Gregory without any provocation. He entered his home, hit and knocked him down, and shot him in the face with a 45 Magnum. A roommate of Gregory was also in the home at the time of the murder and Lee murdered him when he came into the room to see what was happening. He pointed his gun at him, made him sit on the davenport, and then shot him as he left the home.
Brandon Lee murdered two young men in “cold blood”. He has never shown any remorse for his actions. We understand that he has also caused problems in prison. He is truly a danger to society. We implore you to please keep him in prison as long as possible. This man is the murderer of two people and he is certainly a danger to society. Not ever showing remorse as well as continuing to cause problems puts other lives in danger. We are also concerned about the Guthrie family members living in the Portland area. Lee likes to get even. It would be impossible to tell the amount of devastation Lee has caused two families since he murdered two defenseless men.
Thank you so much for your time. We have the upmost trust in your decisions.
The Greater Portland Area Chapter would like to challenge all of the POMC Chapters to see who can get the most members to attend the 2015 POMC National Conference in Las Vegas on July 30 to August 2. National Office is offering a $150.00 gift certificate to the chapter who has the most members in attendance. With the conference in Las Vegas, flights are less expensive than most other destinations.
We will be staying at the JW Marriott Las Vegas Resort and Spa. The resort has given us a special price of $99.00 per night. The rooms are deluxe with wonderful views and tech amenities. There is only a $25.00 fee each way to the airport. If you are planning to attend, we recommend that you make reservations. The number at the hotel is 702-869-777. Please ask for group reservations for Parents Of Murdered Children. This is important because in order to get the special price for your room, you must mention POMC. If you put your reservation on your credit card, you have 24 hours before your room is available to cancel and get your deposit refunded. There will be only so many rooms available.
Registrations are $240.00 which includes meals. There will be a hospitality room and workshops that will provide outstanding presenters to provide the latest in help and information for professional and co-victims of homicide. There also will be speakers and entertainment.
Chapters will be able to reserve tables for meals so it will also be a wonderful time for the larger chapters to see members they might not have seen for years. It is an opportunity to be with people who understand and a chance to learn what other states and the justice system are doing for co-victims of homicide.
The Marriott is off the strip so it will be a peaceful place to also relax. There are shuttles for those who will like to go the Los Vegas Strip, malls, museums, Hoover Dam, and many other attractions. Of course, shopping is readily available. Your conference can also be a vacation time. We are given the special room price for three days before and three days after the conference.
The conference committee is working hard to make this 2015 conference a place that fits the needs and supports all who attend. It should be a positive experience for all. Look for you there……..
The Greater Portland Area Chapter is sponsoring the Memorial Night on Friday. We are hoping to do this as a team and make it a night for all to remember. We look forward for any help from members in the Portland Chapter who are planning to attend. It will be so good for all of us to be together. It is also a chance for Oregon and Washington members to meet their fellow Oregon and Washington POMC members besides all of the other chapter members. I personally have never met such wonderful members in my entire life.
Funding for our new POMC Oregon and Washington Wall will officially begin this January, 2015. Members and friends of our chapter have already been generous with donations and we are so thankful. We are starting this month to list new names that will be engraved when the wall is completed. We ask that members 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 elledge1@gmail .com, or POMC, 14427 S. Forsythe Road, Oregon City, OR, 97045.
We have already begun to look at designs for the wall. It is our hope to build a wall that will hold 1,000 names. This new wall will complement our existing wall and be an extension of the present wall. The existing wall holds 500 names.
If any of our members work at a company or know of anyone who would like to make a donation, please let us know. We are 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.
The Greater Portland Area Chapter has been very excited to hear from so many of our members who are planning to go to the 2015 National POMC Conference in Las Vegas on July 30 to August 2. One of the members who called had not been to one in 20 years. This is a perfect time for Oregon and Washington because flights are less expensive to Las Vegas than almost any other state. We will be staying at the JW Marriott Las Vegas Resort and Spa. The resort has given us a special price of $99.00 per night. The rooms are deluxe with wonderful views and tech amenities. There is a $25.00 fee each way from the airport.
Meals will be included in the registration price and the Portland Chapter will be reserving tables so we can sit together. Our chapter is also going to be responsible for helping put on the Memorial Friday night. It will be wonderful to have a large representation from Oregon and Washington. In keeping up with the other National Conferences, we hope that it will be a special memorial for all who attend.
We will be keeping you up dated each month. Please let us know whenever you might find out that you are able to attend. We want to have plenty of table space. You can call 503-656-8039 or e-mail email@example.com or write POMC, 14427 S. Forsythe Road, Oregon City, OR 97045.
There are nearly seventy-five doves on our holiday tree;
They are so beautiful for you and me to see.
The dove has been a symbol of love and hope;
Without these emotions,
It would be impossible to cope.
Inside of each beautiful dove is a hanging heart;
Spiritually, we will never be apart.
The heart is a reminder
That our loved ones are always near;
They will never be forgotten
And that is something we don’t have to fear.
Mother and father doves share the responsibility
Of caring for their young;
They are more like humans
And being together is always more fun.
When doves have their children, they hover above;
Like all of us, this is how we show our love.
There could not be a better ornament
To hang on our holiday tree;
Doves are a symbol of love and bonding for you and me.
Tonight we will celebrate this season together;
Knowing that we all understand,
Gets us through this stormy weather.
We will call on happier holiday memories
To help us through this season;
It is loving and remembering our loved ones
That softens our pain and that gives us some reasons.
May the love for those not with us on this earth
Fill the emptiness that we feel;
And may this holiday time,
Be the time that this love helps us all to heal.
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.
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
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.