Victim Impact Statements: A Piece of Justice


Crime: The Domino Effect

The domino effect causes a sequence of reactions where a reactive product or by-product causes additional reactions to take place. It typically refers to a linked sequence of events where the time between successive events is relatively small.

And so it goes… when crime occurs… the dominoes fall…

Where did the Victim Impact Statement Begin?

Paying homage to the person credited with giving the first official victim impact statement

Doris Gwendolyn Tate (January 16, 1924 – July 10, 1992) was an advocate for the rights of crime victims following the murder of her daughter, actress Sharon Tate. She worked to raise public awareness about the United States corrections system and was influential in the amendment of California laws relating to the victims of violent crime.

Doris Tate was born in Houston Texas, and mother of three daughters. In 1969, Sharon, was at the beginning of a film career, and married to film director Roman Polanski. Eight months pregnant with their first child, Tate and four others were murdered at the Polanski’s’ rented Beverly Hills home in a case that was sensationalized throughout the world.

Cropped screenshot of Sharon Tate from the tra...

The killers were eventually identified as Charles “Tex “Watson, Susan Atkins and Patricia Krenwinkel, acting on behalf of the leader of their group, Charles Manson

All four were found guilty of the murders and sentenced to death, along with Lesley Van Houten, who had not participated in the murder of the Tate victims, but had participated in the murder of a Los Angeles couple the following night.

The death sentences were overturned before they could be applied. when the State of California temporarily abolished the death penalty.

For more than a decade after the murders, Doris Tate battled depression and unable to discuss her daughter’s death.

The Turning Point:

In 1982, Doris was told that Leslie Van Houten had obtained 900 signatures supporting her quest to achieve parole. Tate mounted a public campaign against Van Houten, winning the support of the National Enquirer, which printed coupons for people to sign and send to Doris With more than 350,000 signatures, Tate demonstrated that a considerable number of people opposed Van Houten’s parole, which was denied.

She later became an active member of the Victim Offender Reconciliation and Justice for Homicide Victims groups. She founded COVER, the Coalition on Victim’s Equal Rights, and served on the California State Advisory Committee on Correctional Services as a victims’ representative.

She was part of a group that worked toward the passage of Proposition 8, the Victim’s Rights Bill, which was passed in 1982. It allowed the presentation of victim impact statements during the sentencing of violent attackers.

Tate became the first Californian to make such a statement after the law was passed, when she spoke at the parole hearing of one of her daughter’s killers.

In 1984 she ran for the California State Assembly as an advocate for victim’s rights. Though unsuccessful,, she continued to campaign for changes to existing laws, and was involved in the passage of Proposition 89, which allowed the governor of the state to overturn decisions made by the Board of Prison Terms.

Tate’s assessment of Manson, Watson, Atkins, Krenwinkel and Van Houten concluded that their crimes were so vicious as to warrant execution. While addressing Charles Watson at his 1984 parole hearing, she said,

“What mercy, sir, did you show my daughter when she was begging for her life? What mercy did you show my daughter when she said, “Give me two weeks to have my baby and then you can kill me? 

When will Sharon come up for parole? Will these seven victims and possibly more walk out of their graves if you get paroled? You cannot be trusted”. She confronted Watson again at his 1990 parole hearing.       The Doris Tate Crime Victim’s Bureau  


Explaining the Overall Impact of Victim Impact Statement

You want to convey the journey and the overall toll it has taken from many perspectives-emotionally, psychologically, physically, financially, your outlook on life currently and projecting into the future, your wishes regarding the disposition of the perpetrator, and changes to the system which negatively impacted and/or re-victimized you or alternately, your satisfaction with how you were treated.

Familiarizing the deciding body with the victim

It is imperative that you provide a complete portrayal of your loved one both visually and narratively, as this may be your sole opportunity for several years (several years up until the point of your initial court or parole appearance or several years until you obtain another opportunity!) Talk about who your loved one was beyond the crime; their assets, talents, what they contributed to the family and to others and their aspirations for the future that were taken away.

Expressing Fear for Your Personal Safety 

This is one of your Constitutional rights, currently in 33 states and under the Federal Statute – Crime Victim’s Right’s Act enacted in October 2004: The right to be reasonably protected.

Example- State of Connecticut Constitution Article XXIX – Rights of Victims of Crime 

In all criminal prosecutions, a victim, as the general assembly may define by law, shall have the following rights:

  • The right to be treated with fairness and respect throughout the criminal justice process;
  • The right to timely disposition of the case following arrest of the accused, provided no right of the accused is abridged;
  • The right to be reasonably protected from the accused throughout the criminal justice process;
  • The right to notification of court proceedings;
  • The right to attend the trial and all other court proceedings the accused has the right to attend, unless such person is to testify and the court determines that such person’s testimony would be materially affected if such person hears other testimony;
  • The right to communicate with the prosecution;
  • The right to object to or support any plea agreement entered into by the accused and the prosecution and to make a statement to the court prior to the acceptance by the court of the plea of guilty or nolo contendere by the accused (i.e. A plea made by the defendant in a criminal action that is substantially but not technically an admission of guilt and subjects the defendant to punishment but permits denial of the alleged facts in other proceedings.);
  • The right to make a statement to the court at sentencing;
  • The right to restitution which shall be enforceable in the same manner as any other cause of action or as otherwise provided by law;
  • The right to information about the arrest, conviction, sentence, imprisonment and release of the accused.

Seeking Restitution

Restitution is payment by the offender to the victim to cover some or all of the costs associated with a crime. It is ordered by a judge and usually paid through the Court Support Services Division, or other entity within your state…To request restitution in a criminal court case, contact the State’s Attorney Office or the OVS victim services advocate, located in the court where the criminal case will be prosecuted.

Social Security Administration

Victims or their family members may be eligible for survivor benefits, Medicare, and other social security benefits. For more information, please call the Social Security Administration (SSA) toll-free at 800-772-1213, TTD: 800-325-0778, or visit the Social Security Administration website.

Workers’ Compensation Commission

Available to employees through their employers, workers’ compensation provides wage replacement benefits and medical treatment for injuries that occurred in the workplace or on company property. For more information, call the Workers’ Compensation Commission (WCC) toll-free, in Connecticut only, 800-223-9675 or visit the Worker’s Compensation Commission website.

“Revenge” Emotional Release

Whether you call it “revenge” or “emotional release” or “venting,” there is some latitude given here…as opposed to the criminal court process in which a poker face must be maintained with no emotion allowed whatsoever or you will be banished from the court… It is normal to have emotion and to show your sorrow and anger….

Adding Information to the Criminal Proceeding

Parole/Pardons Board You may have relevant information pertaining to the defendant for the court or parole/pardons board which can influence the ultimate length or provisions of sentencing. It is important that this information be shared and part of the record. [Ladyjustice- As per Atty. M. Cruz, crime victims are not given the opportunity to provide a victim impact statement during civil trials because the attorney represents the interests of the victim directly in civil proceedings (and could argue for damages on their behalf )… WHEREAS in a criminal trial, prosecutors represent the interests of the State and not the victims directly].

Altering Sentencing

Your information could be the determining factor in whether the defendant stays in prison or not. Ladyjustice attended a parole hearing several years ago on behalf of a victim’s family in New Haven, in which following the presentation of the parent’s victim impact statements, the perpetrator was given an additional 10 year sentence!! This also occurred with a friend’s case whose brother was murdered California! You may think that the outcome is always pre-determined… BUT there are those instances in which you CAN effect significant change…

Educating Judicial Officials Regarding Victim’s Constitutional Rights:

It is more the exception than the rule that the victim’s rights are known, acknowledged and enforced in whichever arena …. You have to be your own advocate and educate others, obtain an attorney who has expertise in crime victim rights. Even when you “have your ducks in arrow” you probably will have to fight for those rights as you encounter resistance. NEVER ASSUME THEY KNOW AND WILL ENFORCE!  My personal experience is a prime example.

A Forum to Express Forgiveness

(In a small percentage of cases) Whether we collectively or individually agree, regardless of the heinous acts of violence resulting in maiming or taking of a life(s), there are those victims who have the capacity to forgive …even murderers because of their strong religious beliefs.  I say you may have a straight shot to heaven for this more than generous act.

Issues Relating to Victim Impact Statements

In the Intervening Years


Hypothetically, a perpetrator is sentenced to 25 to 50 years.  Are they actually going to serve all of that time? The answer is “No.” In very general terms, it’s usually the mandatory minimum, perhaps 80% of the sentence in combination with other factors such as” earned good time,” depending on the state and whether determinant sentencing or indeterminate sentencing was ”the yardstick” at the time; whether there were mistakes made in the prosecution and potential issues for appeal and the fact that now  the rules have changed.So,  law enforcement should never make promises to families about the perp “never getting out.”

What should the family do to prepare in those intervening years? What they should do and what they are able to do are two different matters….

Large proportions of victims put “it“ away in the corner of their minds and don’t want to think about it until and unless they have to. Those of us who are in “the business” of victim advocacy are different, as we have a different personal investment and reasons for staying involved. Those victims who chose not to stay engaged and seemingly “move on with their lives” until the boom drops, they get the call or letter and the dominoes begin to fall.

A likely scenario is that they suddenly panic, or are steadfast in their anger and resentment, “Why should I change anything in my life when he is the criminal, not me?”

This is a normal “self preservation type reaction. They are fearful and angry of the impact for which they have no control. They feel that they are not responsible to do anything for they never asked for this to occur. This is all true, however, it is cliché.

A Few Suggestions:

  • If you cannot or choose not to be involved with what will occur in the intervening years, you must not live “in a dream world,” thinking it’s over for good.
  • Accept the possibility that you may have won the battle, but not the war….
  • Be vigilant…. You do not have to immerse yourself in crime victim issued daily…. But you must have a working knowledge of the process, your case and the potential for it to “rise up out of the ashes” again
  • Hire an attorney who is skilled regarding crime victim issues or seek out pro bono legal
  • Services in your state:
  • Seek out your local victim advocate and get to know that person on a first name basis and call when needed
  • Chose another family representative who is better suited to represent the family for notifications and “being the ‘go to” person;
  • Keep track of your feelings over time in a personal notebook or journal in the event that your presence is significantly needed to provide an impact statement at a hearing
  • If you are provided alternatives for housing for your health and safety…. Take them….
  • Although you are not the criminal…. You should not pay the ultimate e price with your life… for then the perpetrator has won again! This is not easy or easily said,.. However, life is not fair many times and we have to do this for our own healing.

Should I or Should I Not Attend a Sentencing or Hearing?

According to Michelle S. Cruz, Attorney and Crime Victim Advocate, time has not been a true friend to victims when it comes to misinformation by prosecutors and other judicial persons providing advice. Even in November 2013, their attitude is cavalier on this matter, frequently telling victims,(regardless of the type of case, ”Oh, you don’t have to bother…It’s no big deal…)

How many times have we heard that one and then it turned out to be a significant event. Whether for expediency or laziness, victims need to decide if they should be there as part of their rights and never be told “It’s not as big deal.” Information is power. Your option is always to have your assigned victim advocate or your private attorney appear on your behalf and report directly what transpired.

How Far We’ve Come:

Judges and juries care about what you have been through. It hasn’t always been that way.

Victim advocate Jo Kolanda describes a sentencing hearing she attended in the 1970’s:

“I went to court for the sentencing of a defendant who had been convicted of homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle. With me were the mom and dad of the young woman he killed. The offender’s parents, friends, and pastor told the court what a wonderful guy he was. The victim’s parents asked the assistant district attorney to ask the judge if they could tell the court about their daughter. The judge said they could not because . “It would be inflammatory.” Then he added that….. “He couldn’t understand why this simple traffic case was cluttering up his court calendar in the first place.”

[Reference: Janice Harris Lord, ACSW-LMSW/LPC For Mothers Against Drunk Driving Copyright © 2003 Mothers Against Drunk Driving, James Rowland, founder of the Victim Impact Statement; Anne Seymour of Justice Solutions in Washington, D.C]

Key Federal Victims’ Rights Legislation 

1974 Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act

1980 Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act

1982 Victim and Witness Protection Act

1982 Missing Children’s Act

1984 Victims of crime act

1984 Justice Assistance Act

1984 Missing Children’s Assistance Act

1984 Family Violence Prevention and Services Act

1985 Children’s Justice Act

1988 Drunk Driving Prevention Act

1990 Hate Crime Statistics Act

1990 Victims of Child Abuse Act

1990 Victims’ Rights and Restitution Act

1990 National Child Search Assistance Act

1992 Battered Women’s Testimony Act

1993 Child Sexual Abuse Registry Act

1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act

1994 Violence against Women act

1996 Community Notification Act (“Megan’s Law”)

1996 Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act

1996 Mandatory Victims’ Restitution Act

1997 Victims’ Rights Clarification Act

1998 Crime Victims with Disabilities Awareness Act

1998 Identity Theft and Deterrence Act

2000 Trafficking Victims Protection Act

2001 Air Transportation Safety and System Stabiliza-

tion Act (established September 11th Victim Compensation Fund)

2003 PROTECT Act (“Amber Alert” law)

2003 Prison Rape Elimination Act

2003 Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act

2004 Justice for all act including Title I The Scott Campbell, Stephanie Roper, Wendy Preston,

Louarna Gillis, and Nila Lynn Crime Victims’ Rights Act

2006 Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act

2010 Tribal Law and Order Act

Other References

 Victim Impact Statements: A Piece of Justice


“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:
  • 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

 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….”

Mary Fetchet – A 9/11 Voice Extraordinaire



Prelude to a crusader:  Musical link:

Please listen to Dame Shirley Bassey “You’ll Never Walk Alone” (2 min, 24 sec)

Much has been written about 9/11.  Although Ladyjustice is a confident writer after all of these years, even as a homicide survivor,  how does anyone do justice to such an event?  ‘Nearly impossible!  There have been numerous memorials in every state, dedications, fundraisers, media tributes and movies as well as personal gestures from young and old alike.

Amid considerable tears, LJ watched the 10 year anniversary television coverage on a recent Sunday and was witness to the spectacular, well planned and executed Ground Zero Memorial.  This site was indeed awe producing, an environment that was inviting and personally serene as well. Can’t wait to order my ticket and attend before the winter snow flies….

For all of the cynical blog comments noted, including, “F—– it, Move on…” this blogger states unequivocally that you don’t deserve to breathe the same air as the rest of us…  You are self-centered, selfish and totally devoid of compassion!  You will never, ever understand homicide…unless you experience it up close and personal!  But… on to others much more deserving of ink…..

Mary and Frank Fetchet are a couple living in Fairfield County Connecticut (on the doorstep of New York City.)   They happened to have a son Brad, 24 years old, who was working in the World Trade Center Towers on that fateful day. Brad left a reassuring phone message for his mother stating essentially that…”I’m fine… Don’t worry.  We’re in the other tower.  They may even let us out of work early.”

How wrong he was….   Brad’s father, Frank stated that at the time, he felt confident that as his son was “innovative and streetwise” he would probably find his way out. He did not….  He perished with many others.

In Ladyjustice’s opinion, the best account ever that encompasses all aspects of 9/11 with a tremendous amount of information is the former Court TV 2005 documentary called, “On Native Soil.”  This work is an engrossing, touching and shocking journalistic film told from many perspectives.    It provides the viewer a courageous example what homicide survivors are capable of when given the will and determination.  The fact that a small group of surviving families collectively “turned the government tide” and overrode Congress and the wishes of President Bush is truly unprecedented!

The primary force behind this tremendous feat was social worker and mother of Brad Fetchet, Ms.  Mary Fetchet. The “Voices of 9/11” was created by a small group of Fairfield County, Connecticut and New York surviving families after the terrorist bombings and became recognized as the premier organization addressing  the ongoing needs of family members of nearly 3,000 murder victims,  rescue workers, and survivors whose focus is prevention, preparedness and response related to terrorism.

The Critical Time:

The end of 2001 and 2002 was  the critical time in which survivors came together for very important reasons:  to find answers; to hold those responsible accountable; to improve the status quo; to seek comfort and to memorialize their loved ones in a meaningful way.According to detailed information offered in On Native Soil,” the quest for answers was indeed a bumpy road. Congress had oversight of governmental agencies such as the CIA, the FBI and the FAA.  All of these agencies, as well as the Bush and Clinton Administrations “passed the buck,” dropped the ball” and failed miserably!

On June 2, 2002, the families representing 9/11 victims were denied a Federal investigation. The 9/11 families were shocked and appalled to say the least.  As Mary Fetchet put it, “I was naïve enough to believe that people would do the right thing.”  Following the denial, Senators Joe Lieberman (D- CT) and John McCain (R- AZ) introduced a resolution to Congress.  It failed…  After an all night vigil, family members, “faced down” President Bush’s Assistant for Legislative Affairs, Nick Calio.  Calio approached the President and told him despite Washington’s opposition, fearing what would be uncovered, they had no choice but to ‘give in to their demands.” There were 12 public hearings within a 16 month period.  The failures and incompetencies revealed as one views “On Native Soil” were absolutely unbelievable!

The consensus among surviving families was that there was frequent lack of cooperation with Committee member’s questions, stonewalling, and a total lack of responsibility or accountability.  “I’ll have to get back to you on that”;   ”I wasn’t in charge when “X” occurred,” were typical responses.  And one of the few tangible accomplishments three years later when the final report was issued,  included a new government position known as the “Director of National Intelligence.” Next were the tasks of creating legislation from the recommendations and implementing them for the benefit of the masses and future generations.  This is still a work in progress.

Mary Fetchet:  The Person; the Director and her Accomplishments

       Mary Fetchet, LCSW  

Founding Director – Voices of September 11th

Mary Fetchet is the Founding Director and driving force behind VOICES of September 11th. A professional social worker and former educator, Ms. Fetchet co-founded the 9/11 advocacy organization following the death of her 24-year-old son, Brad, in the attacks on the World Trade Center.  

Ms. Fetchet’s mission: to create an organization that addresses the ongoing needs of families of the nearly 3,000 victims, rescue workers and survivors while promoting awareness for prevention, preparedness and response related to terrorism. Her firsthand experience as a social worker and victims’ advocate has uniquely influenced the evolution of VOICES in creating programs that anticipate the long-term, intergenerational needs of 9/11 families and survivors.  

Headquartered in New Canaan, CT. with a recently opened second office in New Brunswick, N.J., VOICES is a grass roots family advocacy group providing support and navigating complicated political systems for over 11,000 members. The international organization serves as a clearinghouse of information for 9/11-related issues, offers links to related resources and provides an expanding range of services. Programs include: support groups, lectures, Day of Remembrance events and forums as well as outreach to all those affected by the events of September 11th.  

Providing Information, Outreach and Programs

VOICES experienced staff provide information, outreach and programs on the many aspects of post-9/11 life, with a particular focus on helping 9/11 families, survivors, rescue and recovery workers and others affected by fostering resiliency through family-based mental health programs.

In September, 2006 VOICES launched the 9/11 Living Memorial Project, a digital archive commemorating the lives of the nearly 3,000 lost at the Pentagon, Shanksville, PA and the World Trade Center site and documenting the first hand accounts of rescue workers and survivors.

VOICES professional staff has conducted hundreds of workshops throughout the United States and met one-on-one with over 800 families to create a meaningful tribute to their loved ones.

The 9/11 Living Memorial Project has grown to an extensive collection of over 30,000 photographs, written materials and personal keepsakes shared by those impacted that tell a meaningful story that will preserve the stories of 9/11 for future generations.

Ms. Fetchet has achieved significant local and national praise for her advocacy work.  A strong advocate for raising national and local preparedness, Ms. Fetchet campaigned for the creation of the independent 9/11 Commission and continues to promote the implementation of the Commission’s recommendations for government reforms. She has testified before the 9/11 Commission, and before the United States Senate and House of Representatives on five occasions. She has made countless appearances on national television programs, and frequently contributes to print and radio news media.  

Ms. Fetchet has served on a number of advisory boards and organizations including: The Family Steering Committee for the 9/11 Independent Commission, the National Homeland Defense Foundation, the National Traumatic Stress Network, the Coalition of 9/11 Families, the Family Advisory Committee of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC), Columbia’s WTC Evacuation Study as well as the Homeland Security Advisory Council’s Homeland Security Alert System Task Force.  

Ms. Fetchet’s work has brought her substantial recognition that includes being a recipient of the National Justice Award in 2003 and being presented with the ‘Connecticut Hero’ award by Senator Joseph Lieberman in September 2004. She was also named an ABC News Person of the Year in December 2004. Other honors include a 2005 Red Cross Award, a 2005 Rotary Foundation Paul Harris Fellowship, and a 2006 “Connecticut’s Most Uncommon Women” award. A graduate of Columbia University with an M.S. degree,

Ms. Fetchet worked as a clinical social worker at Bridges, an outpatient mental health clinic in Milford, CT. She lives in New Canaan with her husband Frank, and has two surviving sons, Chris, age 22, and Wes, age 29.  

Mary is a tireless advocate for all 9/11 families.  To use a familiar comparison to many readers, she is the “Susan Murphy Milano” representative for surviving families suffering from the most  horrendous terrorist event in history.  She carries the torch for all survivors….   Ladyjustice knows very well that government operates by its own rules,  is steeped in bureaucracy, often for no good reason, other than “tradition,” creates its own problems and is often quite disillusioning to the average person.   [‘Just like the criminal justice system!]    Are we not surprised that it takes sane and reasonable people so long to recover, not only from their tragedies… but by adding insult to injury when forced to deal with the endless frustrations and obstacles encountered by all of these entities?

We are so proud of you , Mary!


To view a wonderful video   “Voices of  9/11  A Take Part Short Film,” go to link:

To visit their website and donate: please go to:

To purchase a copy of “On Native Soil,” go to:


Donna R. Gore, M. A.


Homicide Survivor, Connecticut







After the tragic July 2007 home invasion and fire in Cheshire, CT, that took the lives of JENNIFER HAWKE-PETIT and her daughters, HAYLEY and MICHAELA, family members visited the home site to see if anything of value could be salvaged. Little was left.

One exception was the many flowers and foliage plants that Bill and MICHAELAhad planted and maintained over the years. One flower in particular was dear toMICHAELA—her Four O’Clocks. Because of that, the Four O’Clocks were dug up, brought to Plainville, CT and replanted.

Michaela’s Garden Project is designed to encourage area families and youth to become more involved in community service.

For the past three summers Michaela’s Four O’Clocks have been re-planted from harvested seeds. As a result, enough seeds have been collected to begin the Michaela’s Garden Project. The summer of 2010 was our first mass propagation effort. With the help of volunteer gardening enthusiasts, Cub Scout Pack 49 of Plainville, Cub Scout Pack 30 of Bristol and other area youth groups, we produced about 5,000 plants—all from Michaela’s original garden. The seeds from these plants were harvested, packed and are being sold in specially designed packs of 25 seeds as a fundraiser for the PETIT FAMILY FOUNDATION.

About Four O’Clocks

A favorite of MICHAELA’s, Four O’Clocks are sturdy, bushy plants with showy red, pink, yellow and white trumpet-shaped flowers. Some blooms are two-toned—usually yellow and white.

Four O’Clocks got their name because they open their flowers in mid-afternoon (about 4 o’clock). The blooms remain open overnight, and close in early morning. They are also known for their strong, aromatic fragrance,

Four O’Clocks are native to tropical areas of North and South America and are often called the “Marvel of Peru”. They are actually perennials that are grown in northern areas of the U.S. as annuals.

The dark green, bushy plants make an excellent hedge or border. Because the flowers are open during the evening and nighttime, the plants are often planted in areas where they will be seen during the early evening and morning hours.

Four O’Clocks are hardy plants, exhibiting good tolerances for dry conditions; however, plants will thrive if watered regularly, especially in dry weather. Where possible, plant in full sun and in well-composted soil. Add a general purpose fertilizer once a month to encourage vigorous growth. Bulbous roots may be dug up in the fall, cleaned and stored overwinter in the dark, in damp peat moss or sand.

Share the Love

You can help grow the project by planting and harvesting seeds. It’s easy to do. Each plant will set multiple blooms over a two to three month period. As each bloom emerges, matures, wilts and falls away, it will leave one seed—about the size of a peppercorn—which can be picked from the bract. Each plant will set dozens of seeds. During and after harvesting store seeds in a paper bag (not plastic) so that seeds can dry. Send us your harvested seeds and we will pack them for next year’s program. Every 25 seeds returned can mean $10 in additional support for the FOUNDATION.

The FOUNDATION’S funds are given to help foster the education of young people, especially women in the sciences; to improve the lives of those affected by chronic illnesses; and to support efforts to protect and help those affected by violence.