As a co-victims of homicide, I have seen my whole life change when we saw the two detectives drive up to our home and walk over to us. Just their walk and the look on their faces said it all. They did not even have to tell us that they had found our missing son. Like my co-victims friends, I will never forget our notification. We had also been dealing with two of the most dedicated detectives we could ever hope for. They had been helping us try to find our son, Rob, since his disappearance over five weeks earlier. Luckily, my husband and I were together when they drove up in their car. All we had to do was look at them as they walked over to us to see that we were going to be getting the worst news we would ever hear. Little did I know that years later I would be teaching death notification at several colleges and at the Oregon State Victims Academy. What they say in books on the subject is true. You will never forget how, when and where you were notified when you were told your loved one was murdered.
Our family had been fortunate to have a well-qualified district attorney, Dennis Miller, hardworking detectives, and supportive help from victims’ assistance. Sadly, this is not always the case. I have talked with hundreds of co-victims and some are victimized by their notification and some shocked but feel that the notification was done as kind and sympathetic as possible under the circumstances.
The type of notification you give a family will depend on who you are giving the notification to and the circumstances of those who are going to be notified. This is why it is so important that those who are going to be doing the notification have an idea of the traumatic effect that the notification will have on the people being notified. Death notifiers can be effective and helpful if they understand that.
It is not easy to give a notification. Most of the people who do notifications take it very seriously. They are dedicated and put themselves in a position that at time can even make them feel vulnerable. Notifying a co-victim in homicide stays with the persons who notifies as well. It is not uncommon for them to need debriefing as well and understanding people to talk to after making a notification. It is truly an honor to teach the class because these are the most empathetic people one will ever meet. They take their jobs very seriously and will also never forget the people they notify.
I teach at colleges or the Oregon State Victims Academy. I use the last half of the class time to let attendees break into pairs and take turns notifying another team. Some of the students are not able to do this. I have seen some leave in tears or not be able to participate in that part of the class. It is not an easy task. Some of the students may have had a bad experience in being notified or live themselves with the fear of ever being notified of the death of a loved one. This does not make them an ineffective person to work with victims or co-victims of tragic events. It just means it is not what they can do best. I also would never want to work with or be notified by a person who could not express empathy. Empathy is important in every phase of helping victims of homicide.
Sometimes “words can get in the way”. Giving hugs is part of what we do at Parents of Murdered Children. A human touch can be the most important gift we can ever give another human being. But, we also must respect the people who are not comfortable giving hugs or having people in their space. The saying, “a shoulder to cry on”, may not be for everyone. But for many, it is as important as being able to breath.
In the book, “I’ll Never Forget Those Words.”, Janice Harris Lord and Alan Stewart, the authors said, “Saying I’m so sorry” may seem like a trivial follow-up comment, but it isn’t trivial. After just relaying devastating information, this statement, which expresses an emotional reaction, is a welcome change from the hard facts. It communicates to the family, that the notifiers are warm, caring individuals. Furthermore, it subtly invites family members to react emotionally as well. It can cut through false perceptions that they need to be strong or that they should not show their feelings. It allows the genuine ventilating of emotion that comes naturally for most people.”
Supporting notifiers, know that silence after a death notification is not unusual. This is the time that just being there and holding a co-victim’s hand or hugging is the most important thing to do for the co-victim. Co-victims will remember the human touch they received and words of comfort forever. You do not need a doctorate in human behavior to be the beat person to be with a co-victim.
Most important, avoid euphemisms. It is much softer if you use the person’s name. Do not refer to their loved one as the body, corpse, remains or victim. He or she is their loved one and they will always have the name they were given. It is not necessary to use platitudes. My son was murdered and I would never say, “I know how you feel.” It is also not wise to say things such as the following:
Again, there are more and more schools offering classes for victims and co-victims of crimes. It is important in training people that they get the most up to date information on the best practices on working with those who have been victimized. As co-victims, we can offer advice and suggestions that can help others. The month of April is a good month to remember how far we have come and that there still is a need to improve so that victims and co-victims are not left behind.
Always, Mary Elledge
I turn the calendar pages on the wall;
I look at May and I can feel my tears fall.
Mother’s day appears on the page;
My emotions begin to rage.
A child of mine has sadly been
So cruelly taken away;
Each year, I try not
To hate this day.
I know that I am not alone;
For I still talk to other mothers
Who suffer as me on the phone.
Others I can talk to when we meet;
Sharing our grief keeps us from
Wanting to retreat.
When evil takes away someone you love
More than your own life,
It is time to show your strength and fight;
Fighting for others to be safe
Is everyone’s right.
We cannot blame ourselves
When others are to blame:
Taking the life of someone
Is the worst kind of shame.
This year, I will try something different
On this special day;
I will try even hardier to remember
His life and not that someone
Should have to pay.
I will keep the evil person
Who committed this crime
Out of my mind;
On this day, I will be with only
Those who are kind.
This is for all mothers, grandmothers and those
Who are serve as special mothers too;
I wish for peace and comfort for each of you.
The Greater Portland Area would like to thank all of the people who have been generously giving and supporting the building of our new wall. Your POMC Board is now working on putting a special effort on building the new wall to add our loved ones ‘names. We will be building a double-sided wall so that we can add as many as 1,000 new names in the future. All of us wish that we would never have to add a new name again. Sadly to say, we get new names weekly.
If any of our members know of a group that might help us, please ask them or send the names to me and I will contact them. Please also check with the company you work for, organizations, family, unions, or friends.
We are nonprofit and anyone can have their donations tax exempt. Thank you so much. (email@example.com or Mary Elledge, 14427 S. Forsythe Rd., Oregon City, OR, 97045)
We are pleased to present the 2016 National Crime Victims’ Rights Week Resource Guide, developed by the Office for Victims of Crime in partnership with the National Center for Victims of Crime.
This year’s theme—Serving Victims. Building Trust. Restoring Hope.—underscores the importance of establishing trust with victims. Trust is of particular concern in communities that feel isolated from or invisible to mainstream service providers and the criminal justice system, including boys and young men of color, victims of human trafficking, victims in American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities, individuals who are geographically isolated or who live in economically deprived areas, older adults, people with disabilities, the LGBTQ community, and others. By meeting victims where they are, and by listening to and understanding their specific needs, we can help restore victims’ hope for healing and recovery.
The significant increase in the Fiscal Year 2015 Crime Victims Fund allocation provides a tremendous opportunity—and responsibility—to ensure that those who need support the most receive it. All victims must have the ability to access services when they need them. To provide this access, we must reach victims as early as possible to expedite those first steps toward help, empowerment, and recovery.
Our outreach and responses must evolve to ensure that services are culturally relevant and that we collaborate across agencies and organizations to lessen the burden on victims. It is critical that we are flexible and open to new approaches to reach those most in need and to embrace new technologies and partnerships, understanding that the most vulnerable communicate, access, and receive information in a variety of ways.
If victims are to trust that the system will work for them, we must meet them where they are— physically, culturally, and emotionally. By serving victims, building trust, and restoring hope, the field can more effectively help victims as they rebuild their lives.
The Office for Victims of Crime appreciates your unwavering commitment and tireless dedication to victims of crime throughout the Nation. We trust that the materials provided in this guide will support and enhance your efforts to raise awareness, build new partnerships, and reach additional victims during National Crime Victims’ Rights Week and throughout the year.
Marilyn McCoy Roberts
The Greater Portland Area Chapter if proud to encourage our members to attend the 30th annual Parents of Murdered Children National Conference to be held in Orlando, Fla July 21-24 at the Sheraton Lake Buena Vista Resort. The theme for this year’s conference is “We Are The Survivors, Joined Together We Are Strong.” Our Conferences provide numerous workshops on traumatic grief, navigating the confusing maze of the judicial and investigative process, and training for survivors and professionals who serve them. Some survivor scholarships may be available. The National Office will let us know. For more information, go to the National POMC Website: www.pomc.org or phone: Toll Free (888)-818-POMC. It is a wonderful way to meet other co-victims and be with others who understand.
We hope that many of you will be able to attend. It is a great experience and a time to be together.
Homicide: One person is murdered every 31 minutes.
Rape: One person is raped every 1.9 minutes.
Aggravated Assault: One person is assaulted every 36.9 seconds.
Larceny Theft: One home is victimized every 4.8 seconds.
Burglary: One home is burglarized every 18 seconds.
Domestic Violence: One woman is victimized by an intimate partner every 52 seconds.
One man is victimized every 3.5 minutes.
Child Abuse and Neglect: One child is reported abused or neglected every 34.9 seconds.
Drunk Driving: One person is killed in an alcohol related traffic crash every 40.4 minutes.
Identity Fraud: One person becomes a victim of identity theft every 4.9 seconds.
Elder Abuse: One elderly person is victimized every 4.2 minutes.
Hate crime: One hate crime is reported to the police every 69 minutes.
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.
Carol Lynne Keightley
Craig C. Moritz Jr.
Dale Archie Brown
David G. Swapp Jr.
Dean A. Kuntz
Dorothy Renee’ Fix
Douglas Oliver Benton
Glen Edward Drysdale
Jayme Sue Austin
Jeffery Ray Brown
Jessica Lynn Clark
Julio Cesar Marquev
Kathleen Lois Bauman
Kenneth Dylan Lambert
Kyle William Peckman
Marcos J. Castillo
Nicolette Naomi Elias
Jodi Marie Brewer
Paul W. Miller
Randall Leo Gettman
Rebekah “Becky” Selegue Johnson
William Roland Hatch III
Braylon Michael Duguay
(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.)
PATRICIA AND JEFF S.
KEITH AND PATRICIA 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.
There could not be a better time to share the story of beautiful Annie McCann. Annie is the daughter of Mary Jane and Dan McCann. You will also find a letter in this newsletter that was written to State Attorney Marilyn Mosby about getting help for the McCann family.
Mary Jane and Dan have written an article so that you can read the entire account, “The Color of Puke”, on line. It is a compelling story that we hope you will read:
What do parents do when their child’s apparent murder goes unexplored? That’s what POMC members Mary Jane and Dan McCann are struggling with. They’ve written of their cruel ordeal. Here is an excerpt:
“Annie died under the most sinister of circumstances. She was seen by two extraordinarily reliable eyewitnesses as lively, animated, and unbruised at a pastry shop in Baltimore’s Little Italy. A few short hours later, a few blocks away, she was found soaking wet, without shoes , with blunt force trauma to both sides of her forehead, with a vicious bruise on her backside and a bloody bra, poisoned with a massively lethal amount of lidocaine in her engorged stomach, stuffed behind a dumpster by thugs, who If they didn’t kill her themselves, were likely paid to dump her.
The best objective guess on how Annie died? It tracks pretty closely to FBI Deputy Assistant and Director Campbell’s testimony to Congress. She was lured under false pretenses from her sheltered suburban home by human traffickers, and murdered with a lethal dose of lidocaine, probably in an alcoholic drink, when she resisted the unfolding plan. That is informed by speculation, based on the facts we’ve learned; in honesty and accuracy, it is light-years beyond the impossible theory, that Annie killed herself.
What’s really needed is a vigorous and open-mined police investigation. That’s all we’ve ever asked for. It’s never been done.”
You can read the entire account, “The Color of Puke” online.
During this year’s commemoration of National Crime Victims’ Week, can we engage our POMC community to help the McCanns gain justice for their daughter?
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
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.