Arizona Giving and Leading: Parents of Murdered Children

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Hear from Parents of Murdered Children, an organization that helps those who have lost children in this tragic way.

Ted Simons: Tonight's edition of "Giving and Leading" looks at group that helps parent cope with devastating loss.

Narrator: On a sunny Saturday afternoon a group gathered at a park in Phoenix. It's a group that doesn't want to see its numbers grow but it does.

Beckie Miller: I think there's 1409 current names.

Narrator: Including Beckie Miller's child.

Beckie Miller: I first got involved with parents of murdered children about three months after my 18-year-old son Brian was robbed and shot to death in Phoenix in October of 1991.

Narrator: The local chapter of parents of murdered children provided the understanding Beckie couldn't find anywhere else.

Beckie Miller: It's the most devastating event a parent or a loved one can go through. You can lose someone to illness and accident and it's still the most -- it's still very difficult. But when it's cold-blooded murder, it adds another dimension that nobody's ever prepared for.

Marisela Carrion: I felt like I wanted the world to stop. I wanted to tell them, don't you guys understand? My son was murdered. Hey, time out. And everybody was going on with their lives.

Narrator: Marisela Carrion's life changed in September 2003. That's when her son Jesse, her nephew Timmy and their friend Hector were killed.

Marisela Carrion: I didn't work for nine months after that, I couldn't. All I wanted to do was sleep. I thought, if I could just sleep and sleep long enough, then I don't have to feel this pain.

Narrator: The pain hasn't disappeared but Marisela has learned to live with it thanks to parents of murdered children. Still, there was something the group couldn't fix, the pain that consumed Jesse's older sister.

Juliet Carrion: We were best friends and often people thought we were twins because we were so close.

Narrator: Years went by before Juliet used a Mother's Day card to express her sorrow.

Juliet Carrion: I said hey, I'm alive, I'm still here and I very much need you, I need my mom. It was like the light bulb went off for her. I wanted to respect her time frame of grieving and I didn't want to sound selfish. But I did need her. She apologized and ever since that day I feel that she lived her life for a purpose.

Marisela Carrion: I need this in order to make it through each day.

Narrator: Cherished photos and happy memories bring comfort, and so does little Jesse, the girl born three months after her father died.

Marisela Carrion: Spitting image of him. Her demeanor, the way she acts, she loves sports, she's exactly like him. Exactly like him.

Beckie Miller: If we don't remember then how will we ever effect the change it's going take to stop the violence from happening in the first place?

Narrator: Back at Encanto parkings Beckie observe as ceremony for the national day of remembrance for murder victims. Some might find it easier to flee and to not face it but not Beckie.

Beckie Miller: I handle it because somebody was here for us when we needed them to hear. For so many of your family and friends it's hard for them to hear about it. They want their lives back to normal and they want you to get back to normal and yet that's not something you ever get to do. You actually have to rebuild or sometimes I say redesigned your life.

Narrator: The redesign includes loss, it also includes the addition of an extended family. And while they never wanted to join this group, they are grateful to be part of it.

Ted Simons: In addition to monthly support groups and workshops, parents of murdered children offers guidance for families navigating the criminal justice system. you can learn about the group at That is it for now. I'm Ted Simons, thank you so much for joining us. You have a great evening.

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