Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Support for Homicide Survivors will Enhance Victim’s Rights in Illinois

Who are survivors of homicide? The term itself is an oxymoron at best. It’s a private club made up exclusively of loved ones left behind via murder, most foul, not by any fault of their own, but by circumstance. It’s never by choice and it often feels as if the initiation into the club will literally kill them too. It’s a mystery how one navigates the system and becomes victorious - that’s what I consider a homicide survivor. Now there’s hope and help for all victims of homicide in Illinois. Below are the survivors running this new organization.

New Illinois Support for Homicide Survivors OrganizationAn organization created to fight for homicide survivors is enlisting the support of Senator Bill Brady.

The newly-formed Support for Homicide Survivors (SHS) group will work to raise public and legislative support for homicide survivors, including support at parole and clemency hearings, and legislative changes for victims and their rights, according to SHS Executive Director Dora Larson (at left in photo).

Dora Larson, Senator Mike Jacobs, Agent James Simmons, Senator Bill Brady
At a news conference February 8 in the Capitol, Senator Brady said he supports new legislation to place a victim’s advocate on the state’s Prisoner Review Board.

“It’s a first step that needs to be taken, particularly over the last couple years as we have seen people released from prison and put back into society without the knowledge of the victims or the survivors,” Senator Brady said. “I applaud the efforts of this organization for doing that.”

SHS also recognized James Simmons with the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police (at podium in photo) for his work on behalf of crime victims.

“This is a very humbling experience for me; however, this is not about me. Let me give you some numbers that I was going over in my head, and actually verified before I came here today,” Simmons said. “For the past five years, Illinois has averaged over 750 homicides. For the past five years, Illinois has averaged over 4,000 rapes. For the past five years, Illinois has averaged over 64,000 violent offenses.”

More information about the Support for Homicide Survivors group is available at

Also attending the press conference was Senator Mike Jacobs of East Moline (second from left in photo).

Dora Larson, executive director and co-founder of Support for Homicide Survivors, speaks about her organization's position on the death penalty.

Agent James Simmons, 2nd VP. of State and President, of F.O.P. IDOC Lodge #263, for the Victims of the State of Illinois receives SHS award and speaks on the death penalty.


A Daughter’s Story
In 1979, Dora Larson's 10 year old daughter, Vicki, was kidnapped, raped, murdered and thrown in a shallow grave, dug three days earlier by her killer, a 15 year old chronic child molester.

Dora knew she could never have her child back, but she would fight to stop crime that produces victims. Realistically, there is no way to stop crime and victims, but she could work toward easing the pain of victims and insuring their rights are met. That is why, since Vicki’s murder, Dora has devoted her energy to the philosophy that victims’ rights should be considered of equal –if not greater– importance compared to those who commit murder.

Dora was founder and Executive Director of Protecting All Children Together (PACT) for 12 yrs, leaving to be the first Victim Services Unit Co-coordinator for IDOC. I have served on various committees and/or boards appointed by Governors, Attorney Generals and various State Agencies. I have started and/or sat on boards for many organizations over the last 30 years and continue memberships with several groups working for and supporting victims of crime. I was named Illinois FBI Academy Graduates Assoc Citizen of the year for 1997.

Since my victim advocate work I have helped write some, testified and pushed dozens of bills into laws. Changing needed laws has continued to be one of the most important part of advocating for the betterment of victims and homicide survivors. I have attended numerous murder trials giving support to the survivors. I have given victim sensitive training to law enforcement, judicial and advocates. A lot of the various things I have accomplished were projects that needed to be done to meet victims’ needs.

I am proud of the work I’ve done to protect, educate, pass laws and make the public aware of the plight of victims. Receiving awards, that I’ve been honored to receive, I’ve been around a long time, but to me there is so much more to do. I’m co- founding Support for Homicide Survivors with Terry Mayborne whose philosophy matches mine and her work ethics is to be admired, to continue the work still needing to be done

A Widow’s Pain
Terry Mayborne’s day on Friday, March 15, 1974 started out as any other normal day. The girls were at school and when Mike’s shift was over they were looking forward to going to their favorite place, Geri’s 15 cent Hamburger’s for dinner, the normal routine on payday. In the flash of 5 bullet’s, Mike was dead. Terry was now a widow and two young children (2 & 4) who were confused why they couldn’t hug their daddy.

When Mike’s murderer was sentenced to 75-125 years, the family felt they would never have to worry about his release and his threat to society. Dead wrong! What followed was yearly protests of the parole hearings at the prisons!

Disgusted with the Prisoner Review Board’s actions and procedures towards victims, Terry started out being a watchdog for the PRB and wrongdoing by their committee. At one point, Mike’s murderer was just one vote away from release.

She was President of the last victim organization for the past 3 years, testifying at parole protest hearings, legislative testimony for opposition/support of laws that would impact victims. She has gained the support of over 100 organizations in her fight. After resigning from that position, she has committed herself to SHS and working strictly with issues pertaining to victim impact.

A Mother's Quest
I call myself a “founding mother” of the movement to bring dating violence education into the nation’s schools. Twenty five years ago I would have laughed had someone suggested that I would be the “founder” of anything, or that I would be considered an expert. But life throws us curveballs we never see coming and life changes. The challenge is what we choose to do with the changes we face. I chose to fight back from tragedy, to fight through the despair and try to change the lives of teenagers.

Back in l986 when my l5-year old daughter Jenny was stabbed over 60 times by her l8-year old boyfriend, there was absolutely no education or discussion going on in high schools. Nor were there were any published articles or books or TV programs in the mainstream media. Jenny had no idea how dangerous her relationship was. Nor did I. I did not know that Mark Smith stalked her, that he was breaking into our house, or that he refused to let her end the relationship. She never told me—but she told all her friends.

What I learned-- too late-- was that no one, not I, not Jenny or the teachers knew anything about teen dating violence. The issue was only beginning to appear in the mental health literature for professionals. I was stunned to hear the testimony of Jenny’s friends at trial, to hear them describe a controlling and abusive relationship, but to dismiss it by saying “it’s not a big deal; everybody does it”.

In order to heal, I threw myself into educating teens and their parents. I told Jenny’s story whenever and wherever I could, presenting programs to thousands of schools and organizations across the country over a 25-year period. Because Jenny’s friends “never told,” my main focus has always been to teach friends the importance of breaking the
deadly silence and to educate parents about the warning signs to look for. I also focus on the misperceptions teens carry about relationships: that control is a sign of love and emotional abuse is acceptable.

My journey from brokenhearted Mom to national expert has involved radio and TV interviews, newspaper and magazine articles, and finally co-authoring an award-winning book
SAVING BEAUTY FROM THE BEAST: How to Protect Your Daughter From an Unhealthy Relationship (Little, Brown, 2003-2004). Exciting stuff – but I would trade it all for one more minute with my daughter.


Henry County State's Attorney - Terence M. Patton graduated from Atkinson High School in 1984. He obtained his Associates Degree from Black Hawk College in 1987, his Bachelors Degree from Western Illinois University in 1989 and his Juris Doctorate Degree from Southern Illinois University School of Law in 1992. Mr. Patton was in private practice in Belleville, Illinois from 1992 to 1996. On May 13, 1996 he started working for the Henry County State’s Attorney’s Office as the First Assistant State’s Attorney, prosecuting felony cases with then State’s Attorney Ted Hamer. On September 13, 2000 Mr. Patton was appointed State’s Attorney and two months later was elected to his first term in office. He was re-elected in 2004 and again in 2008. He has successfully tried many felony jury trials to verdict, including the crimes of Murder, Attempted Murder, Armed Violence, Armed Robbery, Home Invasion, Arson, Residential Burglary, Predatory Criminal Sexual Assault of a Child, Criminal Sexual Assault, Criminal Drug Conspiracy and Cannabis Trafficking. On October 27, 2000 Mr. Patton received an award from the Illinois MEG Directors and Task Force Commanders’ Association “in recognition of your talented courtroom skills that led to the successful prosecution of four defendants charged with Class X narcotic offenses which resulted in sentences totaling 147 years.” On March 31, 2007 Mr. Patton received the Hero of Hope award from the Henry County Children’s Advocacy Center (now called the Braveheart Children’s Advocacy Center) “in recognition of his exemplary dedication to children, families, and the community through prosecution of child sexual abuse and serious child physical abuse offenders and for outstanding leadership during his tenure as Board President of the Henry County Children’s Advocacy Center.”

Greg SullivanGreg Sullivan
Executive Director Illinois Sheriffs Assn., Springfield, IL

Patrick KeanePatrick Keane
Asst. Supervisor/ Chief of Security at IDOC

Barb StoneBarb Stone
Victim Services Provider at Winnebago County State's Attorney's Office.

FOP Second Vice President Jim SimmonsJim Simmons
Second Vice President F.O.P. and President, of F.O.P. IDOC Lodge #263, for the Victims of the State of Illinois. The 1st recipient of the distinguished award from “Support for Homicide Survivor’s”.


Lacey Gaines and Aunt Cherry
I'm not a Board Member but I am the Webmaster and Designer for the group. We will produce a bi-monthly newsletter for all interested parties. We will run a victim’s voice in each publication. Our first six victims will be unsolved homicides. The first will be the facts of Lacey Claire Gaines Murder Case #09-06670 Justice, IL on December 7, 2009.

I'm Lacey's Aunt Cherry and I have an alarm set on my phone, it goes off every month on the anniversary of Lacey's murder. It says "Do something for Lacey" I am glad to try to help other survivors of homicide in honor of Lacey.

Our loved ones live forever in our memories and hearts. We will not let their deaths be in vain or lives be forgotten!

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