In the Beginning: My 1987 Victim Impact Statement

Donna R. Gore

It had already been what most people would consider a long-suffering life by the time I had reached my 26th year, just out of graduate school and embark upon my first professional, paid job. There had been years of physical therapy, surgeries of two major types, hospital admissions so frequent, they became a “way of life”, speech therapy and discrimination in higher education saying, “I had too many disabilities to succeed.”

In reality, I did not consider it long-suffering, it was just routine when I was going through it as a child, something I had to do to maintain. I was resilient and had strong parents, grandmothers, and neighbors to get me through!

Then homicide happened. To say it was life altering was an understatement of mass proportion. But, fast forward to 6.5 years later after “baptism by fire” regarding the criminal justice system, the lack of resources for victims in 1981, the promise that the head detective should never have made, disillusionment, so many questions, few answers and so many mistakes made with the case to be revealed later on.

However, within that mix, there was also a rebirth of sorts of this disability and LGBT advocate. In a strange sort of way I had found a true calling, another way to assist others. My intellectual curiosity was peaked forever. I became a standout member of Survivors of Homicide, Inc. in Connecticut. We were honing our voices on behalf of others at a time when crime victim advocacy was in its infancy. There was lots of planning, planning, planning, coupled with support meetings, creating awareness and numerous media appearances, and events, including volunteer court escorting with new families, and a fundraising golf tournament, just to scratch the surface of our many years of intense dedication.

In the process of obtaining justice we had to wait, not so patiently, for 6 1/2 years for our voice to be heard as this former drug dealer and multiple murderer was busy with the judicial process regarding other charges.

Don Gore

My father, Donald Gore

At times, the wait was intolerable, but there was no getting around it. There were other surprises to come, for instance, the use of joinder (essentially stringing two cases together that have like elements and defendants in order to make an ultimately stronger case when one is lacking sufficient evidence to convict  with one jury.) During that time, I cut my teeth on the hard truths and tried to assist others as my means of coping.

The trial lasted three weeks. Summoning our courage, trying to keep our emotions in check, my mother and I separately delivered our first victim impact statement.

Looking back on it now, I could have said a lot more. I could have said it differently and maybe better. I could have painted a more holistic picture. That would come years later with time, experience, and thousands of additional words as a writer, and now published author.

I offer the original here as a brief testimonial from the heart. Stay tuned for the second victim impact statement in a forthcoming blog!

VICTIM IMPACT STATEMENT

Re Victim Donald W. Gore 

Written by Eldest Daughter- Donna R. Gore

I’d like to thank you for this opportunity; one that I doubted would ever come to be until a few months ago. 

It is difficult to explain the impact of my father’s death in a few short minutes. No words could do justice to his life or his memory. My father made mistakes in his life as every human being on this earth. However, he was not on trial and the good he did far outweighed the bad. His strong belief in the work ethic, responsibility to family, and providing for those less fortunate, some former employees who needed a job, a meal money, clothes…he was there to provide. 

He was also there when I was in need of 50 surgical procedures throughout my childhood-a time in which both of my parents made many sacrifices so that I might have a better healthier quality of life.

We have been deprived of a father, a parent and all that the role implies. But, just as importantly, my father has been deprived too. He has been deprived of the opportunity of seeing the achievements his family and friends have and will make; deprived of observing success as he measured it – financial security, a comfortable lifestyle, education, career, the possibility of marriage for his children and grandchildren. All that and more has been taken away or curtailed and often replaced with much struggle and pain especially for my mother and grandmother due to his needless death. The most sincere statement I can make is to say I miss him and always will. 

It is clear to me that Perry Lee Herring is the ultimate failure in society. This multiple offender has proven time and time again that he has total disregard for human life; that he cannot be rehabilitated. Why else would he randomly fire four bullets into an unsuspecting unarmed person? Was it all for a few dollars? It doesn’t make sense and it never will.

I would ask that when you pass sentence, you consider my father’s death as a very real loss for a number of people and that you consider the multitude of crimes this person has committed. I would ask if his life must be spared, that he be incarcerated for the rest of his life in a maximum security prison with no possibility of earning “good time.” Although no action you could take will return my father to us, imposing such a sentence will give us some peace of mind of which we have deprived for six and a half years. 

Thank you for your Consideration

Sincerely,

Donna R. Gore

6-30-1987

When the Voices of Victims are Silenced  

 

When homicide abruptly occurs, you can barely function. You are out of touch with the reality of it all.  Your world is thrown into an unimaginable tailspin. This happened to my family. It happened to the extended families of Bill and Jennifer Bishop-Jenkins. A father, a son, a sister, brother-in-law and baby to be all lost to homicide.

Bill and Jennifer Bishop-Jenkins with First Lady, Michelle Obama

Bill and Jennifer Bishop-Jenkins with First Lady, Michelle Obama

You learn about the criminal justice system in the “trial by fire method.” Actually, this expression refers the medieval practice of determining a person’s guilt by having them undergo an ordeal, such as walking barefoot through a fire.  The personal ordeal of progressing though the criminal justice system is a similar feeling to walking barefoot through a fire.

The personal story of Jennifer Bishop-Jenkin’s family is illustrative of the coldness of the procedures.  Not only did they suffer the horrendous loss of family, but a fundamental right was cavalierly dismissed.

In April 1990, they were the elated parents–to-be, Richard 28 and Nancy 25. Richard was shot execution style in the back of his head with a .357 magnum. Nancy lay helpless in the corner of their basement floor, pleading that the killer spare her unborn child, trying to protect her abdomen.  The nearly 17 year old murderer had no mercy whatsoever, firing directly at her unborn child, whose gender could not be determined due to the extent of damage.

The cold blooded perpetrator fled immediately and bragged to friends that it was ultimately a “thrill kill.” Why not commit the crime right across the street from the police station. THAT is what occurred.   This was a nightmare of the worst kind.  Even before the blended Bishop-Jenkins family considered becoming national spokespeople for victim rights, there was the judicial process to contend with after the deaths, and family members were laid to rest.

You act as “little obedient soldiers.” You comply with all requests. You come to court.  You dress professionally. You are told to keep your composure at all costs. You listen intently. You are shocked when it appears that the victims are being put on trial and that perhaps, “the poor juvenile was an intelligent boy, with an immature brain.”   You fight for the right to be heard.  You sweat the details, as no one really knows who the victims were in this court proceeding, as they are just too busy painting the picture of “the juvenile as victim.”  They talk about the evidence, the forensics, the judicial lingo. They talk about EVERYTHING but the victims who essentially are faceless nameless people in the ground.  You anticipate  your special time to speak…and then… as Jennifer tells it, shortly before their time  to make the victims come alive, they received a phone call saying essentially,  “We are not going to bother with victim impact statements, as  the defendant will receive a mandatory life sentence anyway…. So what’s the point?”  Never mind that it is a clear violation of crime victim’s rights. Never mind that you only heard the brutality of the crime and not our family as the wonderful vibrant people they were and could have been! Never mind all that!

Fast forward to 2016, 26 years later and the Bishop –Jenkins family has not been afforded the opportunity to speak on the record about the tremendous impact this event had and continues to have on their lives. But, there is hope. A re-sentencing hearing will take place in the future.

Donna R. Gore, LadyJustice,Jennifer Bishop Jenkins, Shattered Lives

“LadyJustice” and Jennifer Bishop-Jenkins

If this makes you mad. If it leaves you cold with shock and horror, you need to know what your rights truly are, if you are a crime victim today, or “just an ordinary citizen.”

If you are in need of assistance writing your customized victim impact statement, my service is the best investment of your time and financially.

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

To become familiar with Marsy’s Law in general and what’s happening in your state, please get involved. Go to: http://marsyslaw.us/

Additional References-

http://www.dictionary.com/browse/trial-by-fire

http://www.teenkillers.org/index.php/memorials/illinois-victims/richard-and-nancy-bishop-langert-baby/

Your Home is your Castle…Or is it?

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Having recently ventured into real estate for the second time in my life after seeing the state of real estate in Los Suenos resort on my Costa Rica trip, it reminded me of a long ago crime seen on Nancy Grace years ago- It concerned the murder of a real estate agent during a showing in a posh neighborhood. Unlikely to happen?  Not any more!

Real estate is a very service- oriented profession They are supposed to be quick studies of your likes, dislikes, preferences , personal habits, your pocket-book, your expectations (often unrealistic) and be at your beck and call with a myriad of requests and have the ability to  negotiate all problems. And let us not forget the “Greek languages” spoken by financial counselors, lending institutions and insurance companies!  Surely we are talking about a miracle worker!  No, they are just average people looking to make a living and earn a well deserved commission “at the end of the road.”

However with the influx of our fast paced society, social media and ever creative criminals, real estate agents have never been so vulnerable. However, with common sensibilities for 2014 and some advanced preparation, the odds of trouble can be lowered.

According to a January 2014 article from HousingWire, the Most 10 Dangerous Cities for real estate agents include locations in Michigan, New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Arkansas and Missouri. The data is based on location, and city population in relation to their crime rate per resident.

The Top Five Most Dangerous Locations:

#1 East St. Louis, Illinois

Reigning as the most dangerous city in America, East St. Louis also places the other half to number eight on the list. “St. Louis proper” has a population of over 318,000. East St. Louis has only 27,000 residents but struggles with a crime rate of over 117 offenses per 1,000 people;

#2 Camden, New Jersey

Camden is tucked next to Philadelphia, Pa. It has a population of almost 78,000, with 6,080 documented crimes in 2013;

#3 Flint, Michigan

Flint is located about halfway between Detroit and Saginaw. Flint ranks in at third with crime rate of 85 per 1,000 residents;

 #4 West Memphis, Arkansas

West Memphis is the furthest south city on the list and holds a crime rate of 117 per 1,000 residents;

#5. Saginaw, Michigan

North of Detroit, Saginaw has a much smaller population but still records a total of 2,976 violent and property crimes in 2013, with a population slightly over 51,000;

(Six-Detroit; Seven- Atlantic City, Eight-St. Louis; None- Newburg, New York; Ten – Inkster, Michigan)

What are some of the “New Issues” Encountered?

According to Tracey Hawkins, a former real Estate Agent and owner of a company called Safety and Security Source, she creates a variety of safety programs for agents and workers of other service related businesses.

With a distressed economy brings abandoned properties, squatters, aggressive pets, angry homeowners of foreclosed properties, meth labs and pot houses etc. Social media can also provide access and a tool for criminals with announcements of open houses.

General Considerations –

Meet clients at the office when others are present, obtain a copy of the prospective client’s driver’s license and always inform others of your whereabouts. In resorts and high tourist areas, such as cities in Florida, South Carolina, California, agents and law enforcement must be even more vigilant as criminals can easily hide “in plain sight.”  My personal experience was that it was like pulling teeth to find and capture a real estate agent’s attention in South Carolina.  Many of them… don’t call back, they miss appointments, they don’t take you seriously “as a Yankee” etc.  Yes, many people are “just lookers.” However, those from other geographic areas, perhaps with a little better paycheck than some  locals deserve respect and attention regardless.  FORTUNATELY, I finally located a gem of a person!

FOCUS ON TWO CASES THAT TOUCH THE HEART

Killed “On the Job” 

Can you imagine a lovely young realtor murdered in a model Home?   In April 2011, 27 year old Ashley Oakland was shot in the head and chest in a Des Moines Iowa at an open house. Initially, a male colleague was suspected.  Four and a half years have passed. Reward money has increased from an initial $10,000 to $150,000.  How does this happen to “a person with no enemies”?  Police reported as of 2013, nearly 800 leads were investigated with 380 people interviewed. A co-worker stated: “She could handle herself professionally and still bring a lot of fun and positive energy into any room she was in, and I always appreciated that,” the organization’s president, Jason Wells. Well’s had purchased his Stone Creek Village home with Oakland’s help.

Summary Timeline of the Case

On July 15, 2014, the Ashley Oakland Star Playground, designed especially for children with special needs was “open for business.”

2014 Case Update:  A Related Case?  An Oct. 1, 2014 KCRG-TV9 story said authorities in West Des Moines were planning to check with investigators in Arkansas to see if there was any connection between Okland’s murder and that of 49-year-old Beverly Carter, a Little Rock, Arkansas realtor who was killed after setting up an appointment to show an empty home.

Carter was reported missing Sept. 25, 2014, and the Pulaski (Ark.) County Sheriff’s Office said her body was found Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014 in a shallow grave.

A Des Moines Register article by Christopher Pratt republished at USAToday.com on Oct. 1, 2014, said of Carter’s murder:

Authorities in Arkansas have arrested parolee Arron Michael Lewis, 33, of Jacksonville, Ark., and charged him with capital murder in connection with the case. Police accuse Lewis of setting up an appointment with Carter to view a vacant house in a rural area near Little Rock then killing her a burying her body on the grounds of a concrete company where he once worked.

Officials had not yet stated how Carter died or what they had linking Lewis to the crime.

West Des Moines police spokesman Sgt. Ken O’Brien said police want to know where Lewis was in April 2011 when Ashley Okland was killed.

Police are asking anyone with information about Okland’s murder to contact the West Des Moines Police Department at 515-222-3344 or Polk County Crime Stoppers at 515-223-1400. You may also text “PCCS plus your message” to CRIMES (274637) or provide a tip online.

Ladyjustice  Comments/Questions:

Was this killing committed by “an admirer” who may have been rejected? Did Ashley know her assailant”? It seems that it was a personal crime or someone absolutely wanted no possibility of survival with shots to the head and chest.  By appearances, Ashley had the perfect life but was there another love interest? Was there a real estate transaction that  went terribly wrong?  Did she see something or become aware of a business deal that was shady and she was “silenced forever?”

Cold Case- Former Real Estate Agent- Donna Kuzmaak- Portland Oregon

On March 27, 1979, a husband finds his wife dead when he arrives home. “I remember her dragging me around to people’s homes she was selling. Cleaning places up to sell,” said Steve Mitchell, Kuzmaak’s husband.

Donna Kuzmaak was an outgoing 26 year old white female, athletic and played soccer and softball.  She had attended the University of Oregon, studying biology and liberal arts.  She worked in real estate for E.G. Stassens and Company, located at 49th and SE Powell.  On the day of the murder,

On the day Donna was killed, her husband, Mitchell arrived home from work at 4:30 p.m. Donna left work 90 minutes earlier. She was located in the basement.

Mitchell noticed the couple’s dogs were acting strangely and a dish of leftover manicotti sat out.” Whoever was there may have got it out to distract the dogs. That’s the only thing I could think of,” he said. She was beaten, strangled, stabbed and sexually assaulted. Mitchell later noticed one of the dogs was stabbed as well, likely trying to protect her.

“She fought very hard,” said Mike Stahlman, a retired detective now volunteering the Portland Police Bureau’s Cold Case unit. “There was evidence that she did fight but was just overcome at some point.”

Witnesses may contact Cold Case Homicide Unit investigators directly at (503) 823-0400. To remain anonymous, witnesses may provide information through Crime Stoppers of Oregon.

Crime Stoppers is offering a cash reward of up to $1,000 for information that leads to an arrest. Tipsters can remain anonymous. Leave a Crime Stoppers tip online or text CRIMES (274637) and in the subject line put 823HELP, followed by the tip, or call (503) 823-HELP (4357) and leave the tip information.

 Ladyjustice Comments/Questions

Donna arrived home and was beaten, strangled, stabbed and sexually assaulted.  This appears to be “overkill.’ She was married just two years… Who else was in her past?  As a realtor, did she make it a habit to lock the doors when home alone?  It appears that the dogs were distracted by the killer and it was done prior to the husband’s arrival, such that one could assume her routines were monitored by her attacker.  As she made it a practice to “clean places up” in order to flip houses, this could mean depressed neighborhoods with shady characters. Were her comings and goings of older homes tracked and the neighbors interviewed and investigated?  Did Donna perhaps get into a dispute with any contactors or “would be helpers” looking for extra money?

SAFETY FIRST!

We do not have the answers for Ashley or Donna. However, here’s some valuable advice from realtors concerning methods to stay safe. 

Although the Oakland and Kuzmaak families this far have been denied the opportunity to present a victim impact statement, if you have an impending judicial proceeding, perhaps a trial sentencing or a board of pardons and parole hearing, I may be able to assist through my unique Victim Impact Statement Assistance service.

Related links:

http://www.housingwire.com/blogs/1-rewired/post/28640-most-dangerous-cities-for-real-estate-agents

http://www.kptv.com/story/24999578/cold-case-young-real-estate-agent-found-dead-in-basement#ixzz3HBXJJsiz

http://www.portlandoregon.gov/police/article/458187

http://iowacoldcases.org/case-summaries/ashley-okland/

“As the Scars Begin to Heal… I Feel Like A Tree Covering Itself with New Growth…”

Addie Carone has suffered the slings and arrows of daily living…. However, she has faced much than the average person, still living life on its own terms, dealing with insurmountable losses and facing them head on in her own determined way…

She is a New England Yankee with a strong constitution, (as is Ladyjustice), whose will and fortitude defies  the trouble that has stayed on her doorstep for 25 years, in one form or another…..  And it is only in the recent past, that she has been able to sweep most of it away…..    Remnants remaining, as the murderer and longtime fugitive, Adam Zachs shows his true colors- feeling a sense of entitlement and lack of responsibility for taking a precious life.  What’s a woman to do? LIVE YOUR LIFE IN SPITE OF….  But never forgetting….

Listen to interview with Addie Carone:  CLICK HERE

Ladyjustice and Delilah had the extreme pleasure of interviewing Addie Carone whose son , Peter was murdered  in March 1987, with the perpetrator released on bond…setting in motion a virtual lifetime of not knowing, a fugitive status,  that took on international proportions!  Addie reflected on her life, her family and the aftermath of the crime…

Please Tune In: Learn How One Homicide Survivor Conquered Challenges  the Rest of Us…Can’t Even Imagine:

  • It was 25 years ago…
  • Multiple, simultaneous Family losses – March through October  1987;
  • Addie’s Support System: Survivors of Homicide, Inc.;  a very Large Family; Growing Up During World War II …and a very Supportive Workplace;
  • The Work of A Social Worker Designee and a New Homicide Survivor;
  •  Making the case for “Yankees”
  • A Co-Worker reaching out: “Addie, What do I do?”
  • Her Treatment by “The System” (Police, FBI, Marshalls) – “I Had to Figure out what to do.”  An Unusual Account;
  • “It’s An Open Case…”
  • International proportions and… America’s Most Wanted  X Three
  • America’s Most Wanted in 2005- “They Turned My House Upside Down”
  • An upheaval, an intrusion –What NOT  to do… a “little Defiance “
  • Staging and Preparation for Television;
  • “My Heart is Broken – I ached; It was so real”
  • Addie Dancing:  YouTube: “Heartache” by Ted Weems: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UEQMlYDVDFM&feature=related
  • The Worst Kind of Loss: A Child;
  • Peter broke down concerning his father’s illness: A week later…..a homicide;
  • Family Ties….. “The Little Rascals” and being a Twin;
  • Loss in the Community- Memories of Peter;
  • The Harsh Realities…Peter’s Friends  Carrying his Casket;
  • Advice to other Homicide Survivors- The Benefit of Journal Writing
  • “TIME REMEMBERED: A JOURNAL FOR SURVIVORS  by Earl A. Grollman-

 Inspirational quotes and cues, “room to write” to assist you in your process of grieving:


  • Addie reads  marking the Tenth Anniversary …So touching!
  • Kathleen, Peter’s Fiancé –A Wedding Announcement  on the Refrigerator;
  • Keeping the Homicide in the Eye of the Public- “You Have to Take the Bull by the Horns and Do it Yourself”
  • The Teacher’s Background and Social Work Designee- “Pick up the Phone and Get it Done”
  • Reporters’ Response;
  • Adam Zachs Sentenced to 60 Years in Prison- Four Conditions by the Judge

“Four of Nothing” [Ladyjustice was There to Hear the “Conditions” too!]

    • A Family of Financial Means…. Trying to Delay Punishment;
    • Addie’s Opportunity at the Trial of Fred Zachs- 45 Minutes;
    • Changing the World Before Computers-One letter at a Time-
    • Connecticut State Legislature:   1999- Public Act: 98-51 – House Bill 5637-  “An Act Concerning Post Bail Conviction;”
    •  (i.e.  In the State of Connecticut,  Convicted Murderers are NO LONGER PERMITTED to Appeal their Sentences  from the Comfort of their Homes – from their Jail Cells Only!  Thanks to Addie Carone…….
    • Michael Skakel – A Seven Time (Loser) Appealer!
    • Delilah Asks, Given All that You’ve Been Through, How Do You Feel about the Whole Experience Now?  Answer: “ One Does What They Have to Do”
    • Comments about the Justice System;
    • Adam Zachs: “It’s Not Over Anymore….”