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Let us take you back a few years in time to three events that affected our communities, families and friends.
The year was 1993. After two long years of surveillance and waiting for the killer to return to the burial site, Detective Scott Richardson was able to notify Cher Elder's parents that her body was found near Empire. A trial was held in Jefferson County and Thomas Luther was found guilty of second degree murder for the 1993 homicide. He will serve 42 years in prison without parole. During this trial, another victim came forward and identified Thomas Luther as having also been involved in an attempted murder case.
The year was 1994. A gunman walks into a pawn shop and kills two innocent people, Steve Campbell and Andre Nelson. Steve Campbell wasn't supposed to be at work that night; it was his day off. He was filling in for someone else.
At approximately 9:13 p.m. Steve backed out the door of the pawn shop to take the trash out. Steve never saw the gun or the man standing behind him and he would never see his daughter Stevie Marie. The would-be-robber stepped over Steve's body and went inside and killed a coworker and permanently wounded a third. He shot Fred Meyer in the face two times. Miraculously, Fred survived. The killer, Christopher Harris, fled the scene and was captured one week later in Portland, Oregon. He was extradited back to Colorado to stand trial. Christopher Harris entered a plea bargain and agreed to two consecutive life sentences plus 117 years with no possibility for parole.
The year was 1995. A shooting inside a food store took the life of Daniel Suazo and Terry Petrosky. Terry was the offender's wife and Daniel was the store manager who tried to help Terry and was shot. Two other bystanders were injured. The gunman fled to the parking lot, obtained a large caliber rifle from his van and waited for the first police officer to arrive. The suspect opened fire from across the parking lot, and the fatal bullets impacted Sgt. Timothy Mossbrucker through the windshield of his patrol car. A trial was held and Albert Petrosky was sentenced to life in prison without parole. He was awaiting transfer to prison when he committed suicide in the Denver County Jail.
For the families and friends of victims of violence, time takes on an entirely different meaning than for most. Those not directly affected by such a tragedy often forget the story. To the survivors, families and friends of the victim, it can seem like it happened just yesterday … a moment in time that is never forgotten.
There are so many tragic crimes. We often wonder how anyone dealing with a murder, rape, abuse or domestic violence can make it through another day. In all three cases above, not only did we have help from family, friends and the community, we had help from victim outreach and victim service providers.
Victim Services was established in 1986 and provides victims with emotional support and resources to promote healing and hope. They provide victims with information about what was going to happen before, during and after a trail. They not only give you a safe place to vent but they give you the means to regain control.
Victim service providers in Jefferson and Gilpin County still provide us a place that promotes healing and hope, and that is the Courage Garden. Every year, since 1993, Victim Service providers in Jefferson and Gilpin Counties host an annual Courage Walk to honor the courage we witness in survivors of violent crime or other traumatic events in our community. Over the past fourteen years the number of participants who take that mile walk to the Courage Garden has grown. It is a peaceful walk with some participants holding hands, some with tears in their eyes, and in the background the laughter of children and the occasional barking of dogs. Some participants ride bicycles. Some choose to walk in silence.
Please come and join us at the annual Courage Walk. We hope to see you there …
Administration & Courts Facility 100 Jefferson County Parkway Golden, Colorado 80419 (303) 279-6511
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