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1st Nov

2012

Parents of Murdered Children

TreeThe National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims
took place this year on September 25th.  Over 200 people gathered at Mountain View Cemetery.  Mary Elledge, president and co-founder of the Portland Chapter of “Parents of Murdered Children” led the ceremony.  It was her vision and her boundless energy that were largely responsible for the $300,000 memorial that was dedicated that day.  Oregon City is now the eighth community in the United States to have a garden memorial specifically dedicated to murdered children.

Alan Day of RemembranceDuring the ceremony and in the picnic that followed, families shared their sorrow but also shared the comfort and peace that comes of gathering in a circle of solidarity and compassion.  Mary said, “We are members of the club to which no one wants to belong.”  No grief is deeper than that of losing a child, such a loss being out of the “natural order” of things — and when that death is by murder, how much more grace and courage are required of those left behind.  This group of people is clearly committed to turning their river of tears into a source of powerful hope, as they bring healing and justice into our community.  (In this photo, Allen Tremaine holds the hand of his new wife, Julie.  They met at the Oregon City Chapter of the Parents of Murdered Children.  Each had lost a child to murder.)

Hardy MyersOregon’s Retired Attorney General, Hardy Myers, the keynote speaker, spoke with gentle strength & with the conviction of one who has dedicated his life to seeking justice.  Steve Doell, the President of Crime Victims United, spoke through tears about the death of his beloved twelve year old daughter – twenty years before – a victim of murder.  Meg Garvin, the Director of the National Crime Victim Law Institute was present to read the tragically long list of names to be engraved on the memorial.  The inherent senselessness of violence becomes most evident when its victims are children.

Of the many photos displayed that day of beloved children lost, the one that tugged at my heart most powerfully was this picture of Lauren (9) Ashley (5) and Caitlin (4), killed by their father, Dr. David Cornwall in 1997.  The girl’s mother, Karen, had filed for a divorce in May and had requested that her husband have only limited visitation rights.

Cornwall GirlsTwo months later, instead of taking the girls to the park and returning them to their mother’s home, Cornwall poisoned all three of his daughters and then asphyxiated himself.  He was found dead in his blue Jaguar, parked in the garage at the home of the girl’s grandmother.  Their bodies were found inside.  Well-educated and well-off, member of a country club, this physician/father had exerted tyrannical control in his own family, according to his wife Karen.  Women who leave an abusive marriage and who seek to shelter their children need to know that the post-separation period is an extremely dangerous one.  Women are five times as likely to lose their lives after leaving an abuser.  The children are also at risk, as Oregon’s record of homicide-suicides and family annihilations clearly shows.  Women’s pleas for protection during high-conflict custody disputes must be heeded if lives are to be spared.

butterflyThe bagpiper played “Amazing Grace.” Rev. John Schwiebert, UMC, sang “the Rose” – a song of hope.  Butterflies were released and flew delicately into the beautiful blue sky.  Gayle Moffit, Chapter Co-leader, read Mary Elledge’s poem, “Butterflies in Flight”


“Like the butterflies, our loved ones
 Have taken another form;
 If we listen very closely,
 We can hear our world mourn.”

I humbly offer this post on All Saints’ Day, November 1st, in memory of Shane Davis Stephens; Lauren, Ashley and Caitlyn Cornwall; Amara, Sophie and Cecilia Schaffhausen; Natalee & Cynthia Hayward; Kaylene and Lynette Keller; Natalya Lazukin and her children Sefi, Zoe and Angelica; Amy Engels and her children Jackson and Bailey.  Your cries for help fell on deaf ears.  May we open our eyes, our ears, our minds and our hearts to the plight of women and children at risk of family violence/murder.  May there be less needless mourning in our world.

Please visit the website for the Spiritual Alliance to Stop Intimate Violence.
www.saiv.net

mt view cemetary mapNote:  Contributions to the Oregon Parents of Murdered Children are welcome ($12,000 is still needed to complete the memorial.)
New members are always welcome.
For more information about POMC:
http://www.pomc.com/portland/articles%20frame.htm

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