The Los Angeles Times profiles the San Gabriel Valley chapter of Parents Of Murdered Children, a support group founded 30 years ago in Ohio. Murder, this group has learned, is a special kind of death. Murder means there was no illness, no accident, no forces beyond anyone’s control. It means there is someone to blame, although no promise of punishment. With murder, mourning mingles cruelly with calls from reporters, funerals delayed by autopsies and glacial legal processes.
After the shock, after the funeral, after the memorials, people around them want to hear that things have gotten better. Friends want to hear they have moved on. “It wasn’t a subject people could easily be around,” recalls Robert Hullinger, a retired minister who founded Parents Of Murdered Children with his wife, Charlotte, in their hometown of Cincinnati. The couple’s daughter was beaten to death with a hammer by an ex-boyfriend in 1978. Their need to talk about it seemed to make people uncomfortable, even family members. The group is a source of information on how to deal with authorities and attorneys and how to exercise rights as a victim. Members attend one another’s hearings, and e-mail reminders are circulated when a member is dealing with the anniversary of a death or a child’s birthday or facing a trial.