Victim Impact Statements- A Tragedy Beginning in Cheshire, Connecticut

 

“If we live 100 years, I don’t think we’ll ever have closure…If closure brings forgetting, I don’t want that closure.” Reverend Richard E. Hawke

 

There is no mistaking the finality of a victim impact statement. In theory, it is supposed to be the culmination of a family member’s most personal heartfelt thoughts by explaining the inexplicable – the physical, emotional and psychological void experienced.  However, when you consider the extreme vulnerability of a new crime victim, desperately hanging on by threads, it is hard to conceive that any salient, cohesive thoughts are possible.

A person’s ability to craft a statement does not really equate with the seriousness of the crime, for every crime is a serious personal violation. How a crime is perceived and dealt with is truly individual.  We might assume that certain professions (law enforcement, physicians, clergy, social workers) would expose and adequately  prepare these professionals for their own  tragedies. But,  it ain’t necessarily so….   When violent crime happens to you or yours, theories and platitudes often seem hollow.

Consider the example of the Reverend Richard E. Hawke, the father and grandfather of  Jennifer Hawke Petit, Hayley and Michaela Petit. All four members of the Petit family were the victims of one of the most horrendous crimes imaginable, occurring in Cheshire, CT in July 2007. Two perpetrators stalked, kidnapped, invaded the Petit home , escalating to  rape, murder and arson of all female members.  Dr. William Petit, Jr. narrowly escaped death.

Reverend Hawke’s taped victim impact statement (7 min, 58 secs) following the trial of perpetrator Joshua Komisarjevsky, was heartfelt and delivered with dignity. This defeated man spoke in measured tones, truly appealing to the perpetrator, trying to relate a teaching  message to this monster killer.  Did his words somehow penetrate JK’s evil existence?

Grace Under Fire

I thought it remarkable that Reverend Hawke apologized for not being at the sentencing in person and wanted this murderer to get acquainted with them.  As you will hear in the following video, Reverend Hawke spoke of his 55 year career as a Pastor, participation in all kinds of funerals, describing cherished family memories and lost future opportunities Clearly the most difficult experience of one’s life is to bury younger family members far earlier than would be expected.  He related  how and why they endured 131 days with two trials, Reverend Hawke spoke kindly of the perpetrator’s family, the unreimbursable costs preventing more in person participation and the disrespect of the defense team and media, calling them the “Petit Posse.”  Reverend Hawke stated that if his deceased family members could endure  the pain they were subjected to, they too could endure the pain of the two trials on their behalf. This impressive man of God, ended his statement with scripture for his family and regarding the perpetrator.  

Richard Hawke Victim Impact Statement 2012 from Deborrah Glenn-Long on Vimeo.

Sadly, Reverend Hawke passed away suddenly at the age of 84 at his home in Chapel Hill, North Carolina on June 25, 2016. Regardless of any medical issues, I’m sure he also died with a broken heart.  Reverend Hawke was from Pennsylvania and enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps., serving as a chaplain’s assistant in the early 1950’s.  He returned to Grove City College and worked as a student minister at area churches. He married his wife Maybelle, a registered nurse in 1953).   Subsequently he attended Drew Theological Seminary , earning a M. Div and was ordained in 1959. He was named the United Methodist Churches’ Pittsburg District Superintendent in 1978 with several other pastoral assignments in  Pennsylvania until his retirement in 1994.  In addition to his daughter, Jennifer and Cynthia Hawke Renn, he had four grandchildren prior to the 2007 homicides.

A Reverend is used to writing weekly sermons and using inspiring language…and yet Reverend Hawke freely admitted that he struggled for words with this very important task.

Such is the reality of composing a victim impact statement.

One of the options available is to videotape and use the VI Statement as a lasting record of a family member’s wishes over time, such as the video portrayed by Reverend Hawke.

This key role is the one opportunity families have to present a united voice and true picture of their loved one during the judicial process. It is not something to be scribbled on the back of a napkin in haste. Rather, it is better to seek the services of a skilled writer and someone who has encountered a similar experience.

How can the task be made easier?  The burden can be lifted by acquiring assistance from a homicide survivor and advocate with over three decades of experience.  Should you seek assistance, with sufficient advanced notice and a minimal monetary investment, contact me at this link-

https://donnagore.com/victim-impact-statement-assistance/ 


Donna R. Gore

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

You can find me here, please follow or friend! Facebook,  Shattered Lives,  Twitter, LinkedIn

Advertisements

Crime Victimization: It’s Not Over ‘Til It’s Over

 

 crime victim

 

I have come to realize that working with other crime victims is never  a “one and done proposition” when you have invested with your heart as well as your other skills.

Getting Ready

In the beginning, you have a specific assignment, your procedures, your time frame, your technical assistance waiting in the wings, your  “cut to the chase priorities” if needed.

You anticipate need, you craft questions and ways to elicit information that are most helpful. You know how to interview and you have learned that listening to both what is said and not said are equally important. You underestimate your time when time is the most precious commodity.

Changing your Mindset

Sometimes as professionals, (whether paid or unpaid) we sell ourselves short, for we may think that these vulnerable people who have joined the “victim of violent club”  entered kicking and screaming just like us, oh so long ago. As seasoned victim advocates, we must clear out the cobwebs and put ourselves in their role again, not a comfortable position.  However, your pain must be dredged up, now to be used as a teaching tool for others. You must set your personal opinions aside and be the victim, apart from the horrendous crime.  You must comfort, carefully  sprinkling realism on what they may think or may learn from television or  biased media reports.

Ready, Set, Go-Maybe…

You are providing a service ready to go on specified date, but alas, keep in mind that your “colleague in crime” may be grief-stricken, not able to communicate, organize thoughts, not able to go to work, rise from bed on that day, answer e-mails or phone calls. If they can’t face the world today, they can’t be ready for you. You must be prepared. You walk that delicate balance of providing a sense of hope that they will make it through. Although their lives are irreparably changed forever, someday something positive will blossom in their lives because of, in spite o,f the awful event that took their loved one from this earth.  However, you must not make promises you can’t keep.  

The Judicial System

When dealing with the judicial system, they must be prepared that weak evidence, lack of evidence, contradictory evidence ,circumstantial evidence and lack of DNA (the “magic bullet” can all be part of the uncertainty for the jury and hence, reasonable doubt. No matter how much you love your  family member  and present a fair and balanced picture to the court,  the defense can and does readily put the victim on trial, exposing all matter of skeletons in one’s closet!  If the victim was complicit in the crime, not an innocent victim by legal standards, or if  mitigating factors are present (any information or evidence presented to the court regarding the defendant or the circumstances of the crime that might result in reduced charges or a lesser sentence). This includes the very real possibility of a plea bargain-deal.

The Brand New Victim

Is not resilient, cannot anticipate, frequently has few people with whom to compare notes. When discussing their cases with family members (who are often at different places emotionally) more questions than answers are generated, with few if any timely answers. They are resentful, depressed, very angry and so very disillusioned.

The Seasoned Victim Advocate Providing a Service

Provides a lifeline; a yardstick against which to measure the starts and stops, ebb and flow of the process. But most importantly, when hearts ans souls are involved, it is NOT a “One and done”, ‘Bye, see ya’, “Have a nice life.”  How can it possibly be so when you are spiritually kindred souls? A valuable connection has been made when a new crime victim puts their trust in you to “paint the true picture” of their precious loved one.  Afterall, isn’t that that way life should be?  

You hope for a connection that will last.  Even if it cannot be for whatever reason, you know in your heart of hearts, you truly have made a difference and are with them spiritually when they deliver their customized victim impact statement in the mahogany laden room where they hope justice will prevail! This is one of the most difficult chapters. But truly, it will never “be over” for a crime victim.   he fat lady of the opera never sings…. However, victims  can and do evolve from victimization to survivor, and sometimes, a thriver- all very important distinctions!

For assistance with creating customized Victim Impact Statements for families experiencing homicide with sufficient preparation time, see the following link-  https://donnagore.com/victim-impact-statement-assistance/ 


Donna R. Gore

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

You can find me here, please follow or friend! Facebook,  Shattered Lives,  Twitter, LinkedIn

 

 

Going Postal, or Manipulating the Postal System. It’s All Bad…

mailbox-595854_960_720

 

“No one is innocent and everyone is a victim when any agency is allowed to police themselves” (From a 2006 Letter Carrier Publication)

It’s been decades of maligning the  U.S. Postal Service for one thing or another –  poor service,  indifferent employees, government mentality at its worst…and of course, notable homicides beginning in 1970 through 1997 in which  more than 40 people were killed by current or former employees in at least 20 incidents of workplace violence. 

Homicides at the Post Office

I examined some the more prominent cases in this 2011 blog-   Disgruntled Workers: “Going Postal” and Other Human Tragedies from Connecticut to California….

Patrick Henry Sherrill - Postal“Crazy Pat” Sherrill who killed 14 employees, and wounded six others was described in contradictory terms regarding work performance- misdirected mail, late to work, good worker who scored high on the exam, filled with anger over “something”, talked of Vietnam but had never served, was a neighborhood peeping Tom, taunted by neighborhood children.  Of course, he would be on edge when he received verbal reprimands by two supervisors the day of the deadliest massacre occurring on August 20, 1986. Somehow, he exhibited a “window of compassion” the day before, telling a liked co-worker to “stay home from work the next day.”

Did this mass murder pave the way for permission for others to do the same?

As of August 2000, researchers have found that the homicide rates at postal facilities were lower than at other workplaces;  0.22 per 100,000 versus 0.77 per 100,000 workers in general.

In major industries, the highest rate of 2.1 homicides per 100,000 workers per year was in retail.

In 1993, a Congressional hearing on violence in the U.S. Postal Service found that “despite the postal service accounting for less than 1% of the full-time civilian labor force, 13% of workplace homicides were committed at postal facilities by current or former employees.”

A Female Mass Murderer

On the evening of January 30, 2006, Jennifer San Marco killed a total of seven victims.Jennifer San Marco Mass Murderer Reportedly,  the Postal Service had forced San Marco to retire in 2003 because of her worsening mental problems. This incident is believed to be the deadliest workplace shooting ever carried out in the US by a woman.

She began as a police dispatcher prior to becoming a postal employee. She received the standard background check and psychological evaluation. After several months as a dispatcher, she left the job due to the high stress conditions (which is not unusual for such positions). Jennifer eventually pursued an entry level clerk job at the mail processing plant.  However, in 2003, she had to be removed by police for acting strangely and “was put on a psychological disability for her own protection.”

Her rampage began by shooting two employees in the parking lot, and forced her way into the building with someone else’s key card. She used a semi automatic pistol, shooting all  victims in the head and then fatally shooting herself.

What was known about her? She formerly lived in New Mexico and appeared to have racist leanings, publishing something called “The Racist Press.” Police also discovered written material that  she thought she was the target of a conspiracy centered at the Goleta postal facility. The motive remains unclear. There was no evidence she was angry at her boss and no supervisors were killed.

What is clear was that she experienced severe mental illness, characterized by paranoia  depression, anger and suicidal ideation.

My question, have the Feds sufficiently changed their protocols and psychological evaluation processes in order to pick up such at risk persons prior to working at a police station or Federal job? Clearly, this should have been foreseen given her instability and behaviors!

Post Office Crime of a Different Kind –

caroline.zarate.boyleDeceit, fraud, misuse of time, funds and playing on the emotions and compassion of your employer and the masses! This is what con artist, Caroline Boyle of Aurora, Colorado did! 

Boyle, age 60 when she was convicted, began constructing her scheme to defraud her employer in 2015.  Several news sources report that she forged notes from two different doctors about treatment for non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

In total she was granted 112 days of sick leave, was allowed to work part-time or from home and received paid administrative leave.

Formal Charge – Boyle was indicted by a federal grand jury on March 16, 2017 on felony counts of forged writings, wire fraud and possession of false papers to defraud. In April, she pleaded guilty without a plea agreement.

The Denver Post reported, “Although she did not have cancer or any other serious illness, she took 112 days of sick leave from the USPS Customer Products and Fulfillment Category Management Center in Aurora over the next 20 months and was allowed to work part-time or from home. She also was granted paid administrative leave that did not count against her sick-leave balance.”

The Jig is Up and… Why She Did It-

The sick time was nearly exhausted and others “put two and two together.” Caroline Boyle carelessly misspelled the name of one of the two physicians names whom she emailed to supervisors in order to carryout her ruse.  In addition, it was learned that in the past, as a postal supervisor, she denied a subordinate accommodation when requesting leave time for that person’s cancer and accused this employee of faking it. This employee truly did  have cancer and ultimately testified against her! (Yay!) Was Boyle “just tired of working” and this former incident “planted the seed?”

No… a retirement plan was hatched in which she planned to continue to defraud the government until her upcoming retirement in April, 2017. She planned to “celebrate” with a Hawaiian cruise….  Why? Supposedly because she was “passed over for a promotion” in the summer of 2015.

(Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned!)

Punishment

Boyle did not know who she was up against when it came to punishment with U.S. District Judge Raymond P. Moore. Moore ruled that Caroline Boyle be sentenced to five years of probation and ordered to pay a $10,000 fine. She also must pay $20,798.38 in restitution to the U.S. Postal Service AND must spend 652 hours doing community service at a cancer treatment center, cancer research center or hospice!  This may be poetic justice!

Women Embezzlers-  According to a 2011 narrative written by Dr. Linda Grounds, Clinical & Forensic Psychologist,(Portland Oregon) “there is very little research regarding the psychological characteristics of women who embezzle. What little psychological data that we do have about women who embezzle suggest that the motivations of women who embezzle and the rationalizations that women use to justify their embezzlement may differ notably from those of men who embezzle.”

Dr. Grounds and her residents did an initial study in which 28 women charged with embezzlement, ten facing federal charges and eight in state court. The amounts of money stolen by these women from their employers ranged from a low of about $3,000 to a high of $750,000.

Often, women had no prior criminal history or convictions, nor did they implicate co-defendants and they appeared to accumulate small to very large sums of money over a period of several years. “I was only borrowing the money.”

Researchers have postulated that women embezzlers are motivated by “higher loyalties” desire to meet a variety of needs of their families (e.g., shelter, medical care) or their response to a direct request or indirect, but clear pressure from a male partner, spouse or boyfriend in order to preserve that relationship. Among this latter group, there was a good deal of psychological control or abuse by the male partner, though this was frequently denied by the accused woman.

In some cases, women studied had significant gambling problems and the rest were primarily motivated by their need to “buy stuff,” often a lot of it, to distract themselves from emotional or relationship problems or to please a partner or child.

However, in the case of  postal supervisor, Caroline Boyle, the motivation appears to be pure revenge and greed!

  

References

1) https://donnagore.com/2011/03/14/disgruntled-workers-“going-postal”-and-other-human-tragedies-from-connecticut-to-california…/

2) http://murderpedia.org/male.S/s/sherrill-patrick-henry.htm

3) https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2017/08/23/a-postal-worker-faked-cancer-and-got-paid-to-miss-two-years-of-work-heres-how-a-judge-punished-her/?utm_term=.ebff5dbcb80d&wpisrc=nl_sb_smartbrief

4) http://www.westword.com/news/meet-seven-colorado-women-accused-of-faking-cancer-8939414

5)http://www.foxnews.com/health/2017/08/24/postal-worker-who-faked-cancer-sentenced-to-community-service-at-treatment-center.html

6) http://www.denverpost.com/2017/08/22/faked-cancer-to-get-paid-leave-highlands-ranch-community-service/

7) http://www.drlindagrounds.com/2011/forensic-psychological-evaluations-women-embezzle/


DonnaGore-2

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

You can find me here, please follow or friend! Facebook,  Shattered Lives,  Twitter, LinkedIn

Child Stars Touched Our Hearts, In Death, They Tell the True Story

TV kids
For those of us who are “old enough to know better” classified as Baby Boomers, early life was a Candyland existence with the arrival of the television sitcom. We were served up the life of innocence and perpetual family harmony beginning in the 1950’s.

Never would Ozzie and Harriet Nelson have to discuss opioid addiction with their boys. Never would June Cleaver have to deal with both of her children “coming home to the nest” when they couldn’t find a job. Never would Lucy and Ricky Ricardo have to worry about if their relatives were legal US citizens and therefore find a sanctuary city!  Never would  the character of Richie Petrie have to worry about how to come out as a gay young man to his parents, Laura and Rob. Such problems did not exist  in the public eye… and were most certainly taboo!   Just imagine any of these scenarios in the 50s and 60s. Just mind boggling!

However, in truth, there were many behind the scenes struggles with child stars – abuse of labor, time, schooling, sexual abuse, etc. In 1900, 18 percent of all American workers were under the age of 16.  The National Industrial Recovery Act served to reduce child labor. The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, which for the first time set national minimum wage and maximum hour standards for workers in interstate commerce, also placed limitations on child labor. In effect, the employment of children under sixteen years of age was prohibited in manufacturing and mining.

In 2010, Eighteen states still had no laws to protect child performers and only half of states require child work permits.

In 2010, Pennsylvania Rep. Tom Murt watched a TV panel discussion with former child actors led by Paul Petersen, an original Mouseketeer who later appeared on The Donna Reed Show Pennsylvania became the latest state to update its labor laws for child performers with new requirements for work permits, on-set teachers, special trust accounts and limits on work hours.

The problems – The  provisions of the 1938 Reform Act  didn’t apply to child performers and child farm workers because of the FLSA’s so-called “Shirley Temple Act” exemptions. Several entertainment based states, now require 15 percent of their child actors funds to be set aside in a trust account. This measure was enacted after a 1930’s child star, Jackie Coogan’s parents  mismanaged and spent his fortune prior to him reaching childhood.  However, (Caution, Will Robinson!) according to many former child actors, parents  do not always safeguard properly – exploitation, misuse of funds…and the ever-present pedophelia reported in the entertainment industry!

In 2017, Child and Entertainment laws – California  (Example)
Extensive requirements for theatrical employment: The Labor Commissioner issues permits to minors to work in the entertainment industry with required documentation from appropriate school districts as applicable and/or permits permitting employment of minors in the entertainment industry.
Sec. 6-1308.7-Work permit to work not more than 5 consecutive days in the entertainment or allied industries; excused from school for up to 5 absences per school year; school districts are to allow pupils to complete all assignments and tests missed during absence.
Sec. 6750 Family Code – Courts may require a portion of earnings be set aside for the minor in a trust.

Non-Profit - A Minor Consideration -

Past President, former child actor, Paul Peterson, began the non-profit, “A Minor Consideration” in 1991  to raise awareness, advocate for child actor in the Industry today and change legislation.

Getting to the Heart of the Matter- Where they are Now

Larry Matthews– Ritchie Petrie on the Dick Van Dyke Show, was always fascinated with the behind the camera action. Has had a successful career in post production sales and married for 30 years!

Lauren Chapmen Father Know BestLauren Chapin – The youngest child on Father Knows Best- She actually rose to the top of 78 other applicants in the search for 9 year old,  Kathy or :Kitten” as she was called. However her later life was fraught with trouble – drug abuse-addiction and three times divorced. She is now 70 years old. Sad to have had to play the perfect precious child. Did she receive the needed emotional support? Was she able to “be her own person outside of the role? Probably not.

Elinor Donahue - Father _ Andy GriffithElinor Donahue – Multi-talented singer, dancer, actor beginning her career in vaudeville, Elinor played many parts, including in  Father Knows Best and as a romantic interest for Sheriff Andy Griffith! She also acted in daytime soaps and In 1998, she published a memoir entitled “In the Kitchen with Elinor Donahue”, in which she relived some of her memories of Hollywood along with providing more than 150 of her top-grade recipes.!  It appears she escaped “the Hollywood life” relatively unscathed! Good for her!  Here she is reporting for a date at the Mayberry jail! LOL

Rusty Hamer- Make Room for DaddyRusty Hammer, aka Rusty Williams of “Make Room for Daddy” played  the cute little red headed son of Danny Thomas. Danny stated he was the most talented child actor with whom  he had ever worked. But, it appears he may have been one of those 1950 typecast actors who could not steer their career in a different direction. In addition family members reported he suffered from severe back pain, but refused to seek medical attention.  Tragically, Rusty committed suicide in 1990, in his trailer home in  DeRidder, Louisiana. I can’t imagine anything more sad, and preventable!

Angelia Cartwright – Was another of the most versatile actresses for decades – Make Room for Daddy, Lost in Space, the movie ,the Sound of Music”, etc, etc. No scandals reported. That’s not to say she didn’t have problems sacrificing her entire childhood to acting. But an image is worth a million words – In her early 60’s – an attractive and successful photographer.

Keith Thibodeaux- aka “Little Ricky Ricardo”  He appears to have made it…despite the on and off camera goings-on of the “I Love Lucy “ Show of the 1950’s and 60’s. Reportedly, he manages his wife’s Christian Ballet Company called, Ballet Magnificat.  (Don’t Know if he gets to do his drumming” with them! Congrats “Big Ricky!  Your TV parents would be so proud!

Jay North - Dennis the MenaceJay North- The Menacing kid , particularly to neighbor, Mr. Wilson in “Dennis the Menace” was an icon and worked in other industries including health foods, and according to a 2017 article, working as a corrections officer for the Florida Department of Corrections  for the past 20 years! Wow! He reports being typecast, and pushed out of the industry, as well as helping to found the non-profit, A Minor Consideration with Paul Peterson.

Anissa Jones, _ Mrs. BeaselyAnissa Jones– “Buffy” on A Family Affair” OMG!  What a life lesson – This little girl whose Mom drove her to stardom, working seven days a week, not having a real life, with brother, Paul (whom she cherished and insisted on others sharing generosity with him, ) headed in a downward spiral BECAUSE OF the monetary royalties finally awarded to her as a teenager. Hanging out with the wrong crowd, and mixing unlimited access to money and drugs, she became the ultimate party girl and died tragically of a drug overdose at age 18.  Apparently, someone claiming to be a friend, wrote this blog regarding her life and demise with some suspect corrections at the end. Regardless this is a very sad tale!

Danny BonadoucheDanny Bonaduce–  The wise guy kid of the Partridge family clan, Danny got in trouble on camera and off. Third time in married life is apparently the charm with marriage to a considerably younger women whom  he met at Starbucks and wed in 2009.  He has struggled with drug addiction, with re-invented careers as a “bad boy radio host”, wrestler and is dabbling in the reality show circuit. Life is not perfect with the big family clan portrayed on TV.

 

Melissa_Gilbert

Melissa Gilbert – Ahhh “Little House on the Prairie “- taught us good family values of a bygone era! But what was life really like for  Melissa, beyond the character of Laura Ingalls?
She had a tough family life and was adopted by a childless couple. In later years, she married, including actor Bruce Boxleitner and gave birth to a premature child, has suffered  chronic head and neck injuries. She was present of the Screen Actors Guild X2 and tried to run for Congress, but stepped down due to her orthopedic problems. She is now happily married to actor Timothy Busfield since 2013 and lives in Michigan.
Through trials and tribulations, Melissa and Laura Ingalls ultimately survived the prairie and has evolved!

Conclusion-
When I was a child, it was about innocence and trying to figure out the world in the simplest of terms. It should have been the same for these child actors. But, the brass ring was for the benefit of others, vicariously and financially. Some children were more resilient than others.  Is it better today with the advent of social media and a “tell all society?” Only time will tell.


DonnaGore-2

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

You can find me here, please follow or friend! Facebook,  Shattered Lives,  Twitter, LinkedIn