Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Group Aids Murder Victims' Families

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Group Aids Murder Victims' Families

Article excerpt

The mother and other relatives of a murder victim had girded themselves for the testimony of the coroner as he detailed the woman's injuries and the autopsy photos illustrated how she was strangled to death.

They were ready for it, and although they were distressed, they kept it together.

But then they heard her voice -- their daughter, their sister, their loved one -- as she affectionately greeted her boyfriend during a jailhouse phone call.

She was talking to the man who would kill her three days after the call.

And her family dissolved in tears.

Bill Lucero sat behind a weeping woman, silently placing his hands on her shoulders to console her.

Lucero is co-director of From Victims to Survivors, a group which aids the families of murder victims.

During the murder trial, Lucero sat with the victim's family, including the verdict when the defendant was convicted of first- degree murder.

Moments later when the defendant's wife verbally lashed out at the family, a distraught relative sobbed, her hands shaking.

Lucero took her hands as she wept.

'From Victims

to Survivors'

"Murder victims' families oftentimes view themselves as victims of the crime," Lucero said. "They often feel victimized. It's very rare when they don't."

The group's goal is to help the family to begin the process of healing so they can survive, Lucero said.

Some families can't move forward and others can make progress, Lucero said.

Lucero is emphatic about one point.

"There is no such thing as closure" for families of murder victims, Lucero said. "I've never met a victim's family who ever (thought) it's all over."

Some families decide they have to move on and stop dwelling on the slaying of their loved one.

But "there is part of them that will always carry that pain," Lucero said. "It's an unexpected loss, and it's done violently."

From Victims to Survivors tries to provide a therapeutic environment to heal, said Lucero, a retired psychotherapist and psychologist. …

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