justice for slain loved ones
By Howard Blume, Times Staff
April 23, 2007
Reilley is a longtime member — her daughter Robbin, 23,
died after being stabbed more than 40 times in a parking lot
at Saddleback College on Jan. 18, 1986.
Lopez joined this year. On Jan. 6, her son, Michael, 21, was
gunned down at a bar in Pomona.
both belong to Justice for Homicide Victims Inc. and were brought
together Sunday at Rose Hills Memorial Park, on the edge of
Whittier, for an annual remembrance.
Victims' memorial: A photo caption accompanying an article in
Monday's California section about a memorial for homicide victims
incorrectly identified participant Luella Karp as Luella Carp.
The goal was both to salve wounds that can never be entirely
healed and to issue a clarion call: Speaker after speaker denounced
politicians, the laws and the courts as too soft on crime.
don't have to be family to a murder victim to belong or take
part, but on this day, most of the 175 in attendance qualified
wore a pin with a photo of her daughter, a student at the Mission
Viejo college. Reilley told of how a man convicted for other
murders was implicated in her daughter's killing but never tried.
Whatever the truth, she and her husband, Jack, still await long-deferred
not a writer yet who can describe the feeling," Jack Reilley
said. "The rage and the helplessness and the sense of loss
and despair. Victims get a certain look on their face that we
all recognize and know. And then you have to do something about
Reilleys ultimately helped lead efforts for legislation that
required better lighting in parking lots and for colleges to
disclose information about crimes on campus.
this muggy morning, they had many familiar friends to hug. And
a few new ones. As a speaker noted, the number of slayings in
this country every year is about four times the number of Americans
killed to date in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Hills is home to a $500,000 multimedia memorial to homicide
victims. Visitors sat facing the copper, granite and white marble
rectangle that rises well over 10 feet above a lawn dotted with
flat, small headstones. Two built-in video monitors display
photographs and biographies of hundreds of victims. The initials
of the locally based victims' rights organization, JHV, are
set into side windows.
day's designated heroes included local prosecutors and detectives
who have put killers behind bars. The law enforcers were individually
honored for convicting, among others, the acquaintance who killed
a 61-year-old woman; the assailant who shot a 39-year-old security
guard; the 13-year-old shooter of a 19-year-old college student,
part of a gang initiation; and a self-styled "Hollywood
godfather" who killed a youth called Rico, whose body was
of the dead covered four blue tables near the monument.
word "unsolved" was taped to the picture of Ashley
Patrice Cheval, who died Aug. 25 at 23. On the picture of Ray
Suarez was written, "killed by a gun at a party."
At the base of one woman's portrait lay a broken plastic rose.
The photo of a 2-year-old girl was fronted by toy blocks, with
the letters A, B, C.
featured speaker was Mark Lunsford, a 43-year-old truck driver
turned activist. He choked with emotion as he described how
his 9-year-old daughter was kidnapped two years ago from his
Florida home, raped repeatedly, bound with wire in a closet,
then buried alive in a plastic garbage bag.
has led a state-by-state campaign to pass versions of "Jessica's
Law," which, in California, bars convicted sex offenders
from living near schools and parks and requires them to be tracked
by global-positioning technology.
crowd included a number of avowedly law-and-order Republicans
who chastised Democrats. But Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger
also was criticized. Organization Director Marcella Leach noted
that the governor has paroled more convicted killers than Gray
Davis, his Democratic predecessor.
activism of Mary Laurent-Barela is, for now, more personally
focused. Her only son, Andre, 24, was gunned down Jan. 4, 2006,
at a Pomona Arco station on the way to the movies. He was shot
by a passenger in a blue Chevy Blazer. Moments before, the assailants
had been tossed out of a strip club where they had discharged
weapons, she said.
shooting was caught on a surveillance camera and Laurent sent
the blurry tape to a NASA scientist for enhancement. She has
also raised $55,000 in reward money. Nothing has led to a suspect's
talk to the police every week about what's going on," she
said. "To them, it's just another case. To me, it's my
son's life. That's my purpose in life now."