Things the Media and Public Don’t Know about Crime Victims

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In the very beginning when you suddenly become the victim of a violent crime, it is a bit like wearing your shoes on the wrong feet. Nothing fits. It’s foreign and uncomfortable. You don’t know where to turn. You think the police, the detectives, the prosecutor will make your case the highest priority. You are ambivalent about media coverage, for you want everyone to know balanced against your need to maintain privacy. What you don’t know can hurt you. My former blog,  “A New Normal” explains further. 

Although each case is unique in it’s own way, each has commonalities.  There are no “Hints from Heloise” or a 2017 version by Emily Post’s great, great granddaughter “How to Act Around a Crime Victim.” There really should be a guide to be scoffed up by the public with each and every violence act which is becoming part of our new reality- whether crazed and disgruntled or terrorist. We need practical tools!

In the absence of such a guide that fits most criminal acts, some things are obvious, but often blatantly ignored by the media and a public who gleans its information from television.

A short laundry list of do’s and don’ts 

  • Should the media pick up a story on a wire service or social media, due diligence and care should be taken to ensure that law enforcement has made contact with and notified the family prior to releasing information to the public. As we know, particularly with the introduction of social media and our current President’s penchant to Tweet, is it nearly impossible to maintain that “respectable distance, as the lives of a crime victim’s family  are changing forever? I think that effort and respect must be shown, first and foremost!  As a family member who learned of my father’s death via a newspaper article, the horror of learning in this manner was indescribable!   
  • Do not focus your entire story on the violent act and never or barely mention that there are victims, fatalities and those injured.  This is HUGELY IMPORTANT to families who are shocked and offended that their beloved family member gets virtually no coverage whatsoever for the sake of “selling the news.” Although we understand that a victim’s identity cannot be released initially, good journalists do not have to depend upon sensationalism to grab attention;
  • The victim’s frailties, demons, or  mistakes should not define the story and color public perception. Should it be that after a thorough investigation, the victim’s  lifestyle or habits did indeed contribute to the end, so be it. But, it does the surviving family no favors to dwell on that aspect of the person’s life;
  • Do we even need to say, it, Get the facts correct before you publish? Even simple things such as misidentifying a victim by name (as happened with us on local news) can be very disrespectful, If your media  boss is the “get it at any cost,” leave and find another employer with integrity;
  • Don’t spontaneously run up to a distraught victim in a public setting with your phone, microphone or camera and say, “How do you feel? This is a moronic question.  Don’t expect family members to say anything that will adequately convey their feelings. It is intrusive!  Rather, it would be better to quietly seek out an approved family representative who may give an approved statement such that  it does not compromise the investigation.

Family should be counseled to not provide extemporaneous statements to the press just because…

  • Law enforcement attorneys, TV personalities and reporters all engage in this one-No matter where a case is in the span of time, never say that the family is looking for “closure.” Closure implies a finality to homicide. In fact, finality is never truly possible, as lives are irreparably changed and families pass into a different phase of coping.Rather, a more accurate way to describe this process is one of resolution, no matter if the outcome is positive or tragic.
  • Never ask a crime victim, Is it time to move on with your life? Even if a person is stuck in their grief, such a comment implies that their loved one is no longer worthy of public attention!  If family members appear to be passionate in their quest by becoming an advocate for others, recruiting help for their case, doing research on their own, focusing on publicizing the case or holding events to increase awareness, this should not be viewed as “an obsession ” In fact, it can be quite the opposite – Posttraumatic growth (PTG) is positive psychological change experienced as a result of adversity and other challenges in order to rise to a higher level of functioning.
  • If you are a media representative or a concerned family member, do consult with a professional counselor trained in dealing with trauma if you are going to be interacting with victims. In addition, seek out the help of a good support group facilitator for homicide survivors. I highly recommend Connecticut based-Survivors of Homicide.

 

Resilience is accepting your new reality, even if it’s less good than the one you had before.”

(Mary) Elizabeth Edwards, former attorney, health care advocate, wife of NC Senator John Edwards, who died from breast cancer in December, 2010.

 

Referenceshttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Posttraumatic_growth

https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/resilience.html

https://donnagore.com/2011/01/01/history-can-only-be-written-by-the-survivors/

https://donnagore.com/2015/03/13/a-new-normal/


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A Brother’s Quest to Find the Real Truth of What Happened to Kitty Genovese

Given human nature, in order to tolerate the intolerable, do we shape our version of life to fit reality, or do we change reality and call it the truth? That is the ultimate question we all face over and over throughout our lives.  

There are many reasons why we play this subconscious game.  We change the truth for ourselves to make it more palatable, to ease the pain.  We create a fictionalized version that the public will accept.  Whether it is a specific individual or society itself, when a drama is created, irrespective of the truth, it speaks to the fact that the person or the public has not developed sufficient resiliency. When we are not resilient, a drama is perpetuated, misinformation becomes the status quo and unearthing the truth for truth and justice’s sake is oh so hard!

Bill Genovese, brother of Kitty Genovese, a disabled Vietnam Veteran took on the quest to right the wrongs since the night of March 13, 1964.  He interviewed all witnesses and even corresponded with the evil perp in preparation for his innovative film, The Witness.  A “devil’s advocate style” 2016  NPR article conveys the ambivalence of it all,  appears to question Bill’s motives, reveals possible reasons for the lack of witnesses coming forward 50 years ago and concludes that the myths will never fade. 

Never mind the fake news of today, it seemed that in 1964, the New York Times rushed to judgment on its facts, the number of neighbors who ignored Kitty’s cries for help and the infamous L – Lesbian word, just made everything all the more shocking, as most women were still closeted. The Stonewall Inn demonstrations did not take place until five years later. 

In April 2016, the New York Times interviewed Kitty’s partner, Mary Ann Zielonko Her account of that night is filled with trepidation, regret, and pain. There was the joy of meeting someone you click with, residing in a safe artsy neighborhood with Holocaust survivors as neighbors. They worked together in a bar and played together. But, to this day, Mary Ann feels she might have saved Kitty, for while Mary Ann returned from bowling and slept, Kitty was being murdered as the evil man returned a second time to stab her yet again!

Another interesting fact was that with the heinousness of Kitty’s murder, came innovation, specifically the introduction of the 911 Emergency System.  According to Biography.com, Kitty’s murder was the impetus for a much-improved way of reporting to the police of emergencies. In 1968 the 911 system was adopted throughout the country. Prior to that time, concerned citizens had to dial “O” for operator or the local police station number which was then relayed to a communications bureau and then passed on to the precinct! What an arduous process, in which many lives hung in the balance. President Lyndon Johnson and AT &T was instrumental in creating this single point of contact for emergencies.  There is no doubt that the implementation of this system has saved countless lives!

Bill Genovese is not a crackpot.  He is a man with a mission who says he’ll know when it’s over. It matters not that Winston Moseley described as a psychopathic serial killer and necrophiliac, was the man who stalked, raped and killed Kitty died in prison in Dannemora, in March 2016 at age 81. He even earned a college degree on taxpayers’ dime! You can read more at my previous blog: https://donnagore.com/2011/06/05/it’s-all-about-social-responsibility-the-case-of-kitty-genovese/

The groundbreaking film,The Witness,” was initially released as a world premiere at the New York Film Festival in October 2015. The trailer is engrossing, chilling!  It is available on several social media platforms.

Watch it as a shameful part of history. Watch it for justice’s sake. Watch it as a legacy to Kitty who was struck down so young and needlessly.. Watch it for Bill Genovese, a Vietnam Vet who lost his legs in the Vietnam War and lost even more in the life of his sister, Kitty. Perhaps his life has come full circle now. I truly hope so!

References-

http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/blog/history-of-911-americas-emergency-service-before-and-after-kitty-genovese/

https://www.biography.com/people/kitty-genovese-120415

http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/blog/history-of-911-americas-emergency-service-before-and-after-kitty-genovese/

http://www.thewitness-film.com

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-witness-review-searching-for-the-truth-about-kitty-genovese-1464883925

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/05/nyregion/winston-moseley-81-killer-of-kitty-genovese-dies-in-prison.html


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It Is Not the End When A Missing Person is Found; It’s Only One Chapter

 

“It’s been hard. I can’t eat. I can’t sleep. It’s a struggle every day. But, we won’t stop until we have justice for him.”  

(George McLaurin Davis, Randy’s father)

 

When a person goes missing, events don’t occur in nice, neat stages. Just as Elisabeth Kubler Ross’s well-known five stages of grief, it is not a stair-step progression concerning the emotions of those who experience the loss of a missing person: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. Loretta Davis, mother of Randy Davis has experienced all of these, before and after Randy went missing on January 21, 2016.  

Randy was described as a kindhearted man who would do anything for a person in need.  He was in a high school “Boot Camp” and earned his GED.  However, as often happens, young people don’t always make the best decisions concerning which friends to associate with, or who has their best interests at heart (besides their Mama). Along the way, he met Dakota Deal and had two children of his own named Bryson (now 6) and Addison (now 4).

But, the defining force that pulled him off the straight and narrow path of life was the introduction to drugs, escalating to the hardest substances from which it is nearly impossible to rid oneself.  It was a roller coaster ride of drug use, treatment, and relapse. As would be expected, Randy’s mother did everything possible to try to assist in keeping the demons at bay.  But no matter what was done, no matter how many resources or money one has at their disposal, sometimes the demons win no matter what, because of the cravings the motivation is so strong. Still, Randy always kept in contact with family.

On the positive side, we must stress that Randy had aspirations for a better life. He loved his children. He had a natural talent for art, particularly drawing. Randy wanted to go to art school. His family treasures many examples of his talents. Sadly, we can only speculate how his life might have unfolded, if given the right circumstances.

On May 10th, 2017 the Horry County Police, with the assistance of staff from the Cue Center for Missing Persons, located the remains of this  26-year-old young man, in a heavily wooded area on Horse Bay Road in Aynor, South Carolina.

The messages the Davis family wants to convey are many.  Loretta wants the world to know that her son’s life mattered, regardless of his struggles. The Davis’ are highly motivated to keep this young male’s case in the forefront such that it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle. And, they want the masses to know that the journey is only half completed. As I write this, I think of the courage and inner strength of a mother who needed the finality of viewing photos of her son at the police station.  It was a task no one should ever have to face. On that day,  after the viewing, she rode her bike to relieve the stress and pain, if only for a  short time.  

Loretta is now thinking of a fitting way to honor Randy’s memory, to build a legacy.  Will it be planting a tree, doing presentations to young people in her local schools, an art exhibit, an annual fundraiser, a video combining his art and strong messages regarding the importance of positive peer relationships and the evils of substance abuse? They will find their path as a family.

Thoughts and Thank You from Members of the Davis Family

“It’s been very hard having my brother missing for over a year and four months. Knowing that we had to bury my brother at age 26, created a huge impact upon my life.” (Randy’s youngest  sister, Ashley, age 19.)

Randy’s Aunt Janice always felt in her heart from the day Randy disappeared, that he had gone to pursue another Rehabilitation Program in order to get his life on track. She believed this until the day his remains were found. It was her hope, her solace, her self-protection. The reality was devastating.

“We praise Monica Caison and the entire Cue Center team for all of their hard work and dedication on behalf of our son, Randy. We also appreciate them taking the time away from their lives to search for Randy. We love y’all.

To Lt. Peter Cestare and Detective Dudley of the Crime Scene Investigations Unit, Horry County Police Department- South Carolina:

“We want to thank them for their long hours and days of constant work on our case. The progress we have achieved to date would not have been possible if they didn’t believe in us. We are forever grateful. There are no words to say how much your efforts mean to us.”

When Loretta’s daily strength weakens, she can ride her bike, looking to the heavens and say a prayer for her son, Randy, gone too soon!

 For any Information Concerning the Randy Davis Case-

Contact the Horry County Police Department at (843) 915-5350 or the CUE Center for Missing Persons at (910) 232-1687; (910) 343-1131 or the 24 hour tip line (910) 232-1687.

Profile of Randy Davis case at CUE Center for Missing Persons: http://www.ncmissingpersons.org/index.php?s=randy+Davis

References- http://www.amhc.org/58-grief-bereavement-issues/article/8444-stage-of-grief-models-kubler-ross

http://wpde.com/news/local/mayor-john-rhodes-myrtle-beach-is-not-a-city-of-violence

http://www.wnem.com/story/35443539/coroner-confirms-remains-found-were-those-of-aynor-man-missing-since-2016


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A “Shero” of the Murderous Skies

 

“Heros don’t seek accolades or the spotlight with glitz and glamour; Rather, they perform their humanitarian works quietly, unselfishly without a moment’s hesitation.”….Ladyjustice

Betty Ong may not be remembered by name, but she will live in infamy for her acts of heroism beyond all measure. Betty was the first and primary communicator of the initial phases of the worst terrorist act  in modern history. Betty had aspirations to become a flight attendant as a child. However, she far surpassed any career goals with her humanitarian nature. Betty’s flight on fateful September 11, 2001 was Flight 11 originating from Boston, Massachusetts  bound for  Los Angeles, California. In her 14 year career, she achieved the level of “purser” is the chief flight attendant whose duties include supervising other staff, completing detailed reports ensuring compliance with all safety procedures and all passengers safe and comfortable.

Respect and hospitality by the host is the cornerstone of Chinese culture which appeared to serve Betty well. She was the youngest of a family of five children from San Francisco, California, born in February, 1956. She truly was a people person with a special fondness for seniors and children. Her sister wrote that she was  a tireless worker , always going the extra mile, driving into the city to have lunch with seniors and buying trinkets from her travels for children.

Her amazing  professionalism and courage her fire along with colleague Amy Sweeney during her 23 minute call to reservation agents  at the Raleigh-Durham airport was the beginning of events that provided key information and ultimately saved untolled additional lives!

Okay, my name is Betty Ong. I’m number 3 on Flight 11. And the cockpit is not answering their phone, and there’s somebody stabbed in business class, and there’s — we can’t breathe in business class. Somebody’s got mace or something.

She and Amy continued talking to different entities and related with calmness and  some of the crew had been murdered and hijackers had infiltrated the cockpit. She shared information on the men, including their seat numbers and what they looked like. Their acts provided the “window of opportunity by 20 minutes to  learn the names addresses and other vital information on three of the five hijackers prior to the crash into the North Tower.

With the personal terror put aside, Betty and Amy made the ultimate sacrifice for the safety of their passengers. Had they had time to think, to grieve, we can only image what they contemplated and shared in their final moments.

On February 5, 2017, Betty would have celebrated her 61st birthday.

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Tributes to Betty Ong-

2002 Recipient of the “Madeline Amy Sweeney Award for Civilian Bravery” (named for Betty’s co-worker, Amy) from the State of Massachusetts;  http://www.mass.gov/eopss/crime-prev-personal-sfty/masweeney-award-for-civilian-bravery.html

2011 The Betty Ong Chinese Recreation Center , serving the community for nearly 60 years in San Francisco and a facility in which she played as a child;  http://sfrecpark.org/destination/betty-ong-rec-center/;

Movies – Canadian Actress Jean Yoon depicts the role of Betty in the mini-series the Path to 9-11; and, according to Wikipedia sed a lengthy clip of Betty’s phone call without attribution and family permission to the 2012 movie, “Zero,Dark, Dirty,” apolitical action thriller which endorsed torture in the search for osama bin Laden. Her family subsequently requested a charitable donation from Warner Brothers in her name, give credit on-screen and reiterate that they do not endorse torture during the 85th Academy Awards;

The Betty Ann Ong Foundation, a 501c 3 non-profit,  http://www.bettyong.org/index.htm headed by her sister, Cathie Ong-Herrera  was created in ~ 2006 whose goal is dedicated to childhood obesity .Betty was a staunch believer that a positive attitude breeds self-confidence and self-esteem, which she acquired at an early age.  They endorse Camp Pocono Trails, one of the only weight loss camps accredited by the American  Camp association. http://www.newimagecamp.com/index.html

Finally, an ironic twist on a beautiful tribute to Betty gone horribly wrong! A September 12, 2007 San Francisco article described this tribute below –

Betty Ong is one of several Chinatown natives depicted in a 200-foot-long, 7-foot-tall mural dedicated to Chinese contributions to American history entitled Titled “Gold Mountain.” the mural also includes educators and nurses, Edsel Ford Fong, a waiter made famous by the late Chronicle columnist Herb Caen, and Larry Ching, the “Chinese Frank Sinatra,” who was a longtime entertainer at Forbidden City.

Painted by artist Ann Sherry in 1994 on the side of an apartment building on Romolo Place, the mural has been damaged by taggers numerous times. Each time, Sherry, the building’s owners and community volunteers have stepped up to perform touchups – and twice to restore the mural completely.”

As of 2004, Mural Artist who created this work of art stated,

“I’m done with them. That’s why the mural is painted over,” Sherry said. She said that during the 2004 restoration, which took almost a year, she worked on the mural six days a week for almost a year and was only compensated for transportation and lunch. “It was an absolute nightmare,” she said. “All they could pay me was coming out of their poor little pockets, so I accepted it because at the time I could afford to take a lot of time to do this. … So I basically just did the work, and they let it go to hell again. (It is now re-painted entirely in “institutional beige”)

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How very sad that Betty’s memory and others would be repeatedly defaced by criminals yet again! In my opinion, taggers who “perform their art” on pre-existing beauty, serve no good purpose and perpetuate disrespect and violence, qualities which were abhorrent to “our true shero”, Betty.

References- http://www.businessinsider.com/7-incredible-stories-of-heroism-on-911-2015-9?IR=T

http://www.bettyong.org/BettyOng.htm

https://www.thoughtco.com/how-to-use-huan-ying-2278603

https://www.911memorial.org/blog/remembering-911-hero-flight-attendant-betty-ong

http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/S-F-mural-depicting-9-11-flight-attendant-2541526.php

http://sfcitizen.com/blog/2016/07/21/heres-all-whats-left-of-1994s-giant-gold-mountain-mural-at-romolo-place-in-north-beach-graffiti/http://sfcitizen.com/blog/2016/07/21/heres-all-whats-left-of-1994s-giant-gold-mountain-mural-at-romolo-place-in-north-beach-graffiti/


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To schedule Donna R. Gore for your next conference, seminar or event, please contact ImaginePublicity.Phone: 843-808-0859 or Email: contact@imaginepublicity.com