For Memphis homemaker Julie Myers, a carefully constructed life disintegrated on July 12, 2000, The Tennessean reports in the second of a series on the cost of murder. That was the day her husband was killed and two Tennessee Bureau of Investigation agents arrived at her home to break the news. The agents told Myers her husband had been killed in a horrible accident. Minutes later, she learned from a television news report that her husband, Scott, hadn’t died in an accident but had been shot to death in a triple homicide at a restaurant.
In the six years since her husband’s murder, Myers has seen her health and finances steadily deteriorate. The continued fallout from the killing is a prime example of the long-term, financially debilitating impact of murder. The impact often extends beyond the families of victims and killers to affect businesses and the taxpaying public. Murder costs Tennessee taxpayers – who underwrite most expenses associated with bringing killers to justice – more than $110 million a year, a six-month Tennessean investigation found. Those most profoundly affected financially remain the families of murder victims, particularly when – as in the Myers case – the main income earner is killed. Myers struggles with the emotional pain and is in therapy and on antidepressants. Increasingly, it is her worsening financial situation that is the most pressing concern. In the immediate aftermath of his death, Social Security survivors’ benefits and workers’ compensation payments provided Myers with an income comparable to her husband’s. In six years, that income dropped from $4,750 to less than $3,200 a month. By the end of June, she will lose her health insurance.