Sunday, June 28, 2009

What to do When the Police Leave: Dealing with Traumatic Loss

The following chapter is the complete text excerpted from What to do When the Police Leave: A Guide to the First Days of Traumatic Loss, by Bill Jenkins.

How to Help a Friend in Grief

As much as we would like to avoid unpleasantness in our lives, sometimes it is inescapable. Instead, we must learn how to grieve in healthy ways and work through our difficulties. If you are wondering what you can do to help a friend who is in intense mourning, here are some suggestions:

bulletRecognize that everyone grieves at their own pace. Some progress rather quickly, some move very slowly. We never move at the speed that others think we should. Help us take one day at a time.

bulletKeep us company and be there for us. You don’t need to say anything profound or do anything earthshaking. Often, your greatest help is your quiet presence and simplest deeds.

bulletMake suggestions and initiate contact and activities. It is important for you to respect our privacy and give us some time alone, but we also may not have the energy to structure our lives right after a traumatic loss. We may have to rely on others to think of things that we don’t know to ask for.

bulletProvide a safe environment for us to show strong emotions. It may be very painful, but it can be of enormous help.

bulletHelp us remember good things. Tell us your memories of our loved one as you listen to us tell you ours. If we begin to show our emotions outwardly, you have not upset us, you have simply enabled us to be a bit more open in your presence.

bulletBe there after the first wave is over. Make the effort to call, to come by, to help us out six months and even a year down the road. Crowds may be difficult for us. Shopping and holidays will be overwhelming. Offer your help. If we’re not up to a visit we’ll let you know, but let us know you remember and are there for us.

bulletListen to us. We need to tell our story over and over in order to process our grief. We may even say outrageous things. Don’t judge us by what we say or how we feel. We have a lot to work through, and in time, we will come to the answers that are right for us.

bulletBe careful of cliches, religious platitudes, or easy answers. You may not be able to help us with certain issues right now, so don’t be too quick to share your opinions if we say something you don’t agree with. We need time to work things out on our own.

bulletBe sensitive to our needs, be patient, have confidence and believe in us. We will get better, we will experience healing; but it will take some time, and it can be rough going for much of the way.

bulletBe on the look-out for destructive behaviors. Traumatic loss can lead some people into depression, alcohol or drug abuse. We may need you to keep an eye on us while things are especially tough.

bulletHelp us find humorous diversion. Laughter is good medicine.

bulletBe willing to do difficult things with us. We may need someone to sit with us in court; we may need a safe place to rage; we may need help with the funeral or afterwards. There may be some hard times ahead and facing them alone can be terrifying.

bulletHelp us find ways to bring good things out of the bad. It is important that our loved one be remembered and memorialized.

bulletFind out about grief. Read some of the books that are available. The more you know, the better able you will be to help us.

bulletHelp us to find support and inspiration. Often, a poem or song will speak to us in ways that no one else can. Also, talking to someone who has survived a similar loss can help us realize that we are not alone in our grief.

We have to go through this valley in order to get to the other side. Dealing with grief cannot be avoided. Help us get through this as well as we are able. Your true friendship and companionship, your kindness and patience can help us get our lives back together.

We will experience some level of grief over our loved one’s loss for the rest of our lives. Some days will simply be better than others. One day, we hope to reach a point where our good days outnumber the bad. That will be a major milestone for us.

Thank you for being here for us.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Silent Observer focuses on the victims and their families

Silent Observer begins airing new ads on unsolved Michigan murders

Posted by Cassie Foss | The Grand Rapids Press June 25, 2009 15:49PM

Michelle DeMaagd holds a picture of her sister, Renee Pagel, in a scene from a Silent Observer ad. Pagel was stabbed to death in 2006

GRAND RAPIDS -- In 1996, Sherry Stewart Brown's parents, Columbus and Vera Stewart, went to her apartment on College Avenue NE carrying her favorite dessert, a peach cobbler, to celebrate her 33rd birthday.

When her father returned to the apartment three days later, the pie was half-eaten. And Brown had vanished.

It would be two years before her body was discovered in a ditch near Butterworth Avenue SW, and another four before it was identified and released to her family for burial.

"In my heart, I would think I heard her walking across the back porch," said Vera Stewart, who hopes for a break in the unsolved death that has them determined to find justice.

"We stand here today, opening our hearts back up," she said. "Somebody took my daughter's body and lay it in that ditch, and as long as I got breath in my body to speak for my daughter, we will do that."

Now, Silent Observer is hoping to reach out through a new series of public service announcements that feature members of the community who have lost loved ones to homicide, including the Stewarts. The group offers up to $1,000 for tips that lead to arrests and trials for unsolved crimes.

The service announcements, which began to air Thursday, were a joint effort between Silent Observer, Conqueror's support group and Delayed Justice, a Web site that tells the stories of open and unsolved homicides in Michigan.

Carolyn Priester started the group, "Conquerors," for survivors of violence and loved ones of murder victims or other violent crimes. Her 34-year-old son, Lee Randolph Priester, was shot and killed July 28, 2007 outside his house on Lafayette Avenue SE. No one has been arrested in the slaying.

Priester helped contact the families represented in the announcements.

"We strengthen one another," said Priester of the group. "These unsolved murders have left a void. Closure is partial when you find the person responsible, but we want justice."

David Schock, with Delayed Justice, produced the videos for Silent Observer at no charge.

"The Conquerors support group spoke to my heart," Schock said.

Mother-of-three Renee Pagel, 41, was found dead Aug. 5, 2006, of multiple stab wounds in her Courtland Township home.

"Revisiting it is not like going back because you're always there," said Pagel's sister, Michelle DeMaagd of Grand Rapids, who is featured in one of the announcements.

Police named Michael Pagel, her estranged husband who now is living in Prudenville with the couple's three children, as the only suspect. Michael Pagel has not been charged with any crime, and through his attorney he has maintained his innocence.

DeMaagd said there are always leads, but that there is not enough evidence to bring the case to trial.

"She deserves justice," said DeMaagd. Of the service announcement, she said: "It was difficult to do, but we definitely appreciate the opportunity to get a murderer off the streets."

The victims and their families

Mother Carolyn Priester started the group "Conquerors" for survivors of violence and loved ones of murder victims or other violent crimes. Her 34-year-old son, Lee Randolph Priester, was shot and killed July 28, 2007 outside his house on Lafayette Avenue SE. No one has been arrested in the slaying.

Renee Pagel, 41, was found dead Aug. 5, 2006, after suffering multiple stab wounds while in her Courtland Township home. Pagel's sister, Michelle DeMaagd, of Grand Rapids, is featured in the service announcement.

"She deserves justice," DeMaagd said. "It was difficult to do, but we definitely appreciate the opportunity to get a murderer off the streets.

Sherry Stewart Brown disappeared from her Grand Rapids apartment three days after her 33rd birthday in August 1996. A body thought to be Brown's was found in 1998 near Butterworth Avenue SW, but it was too decomposed to conclude how she died, authorities said. A long identification process began and in 2002, Brown's parents, Columbus and Vera Stewart, finally received the confirmation to bury their daughter. But Brown's cause of death still is undetermined and there are no suspects in her death.

Fran Molson still is looking for help to find her son's killer. Richard Dannah, 19, was at a party May 31, 2008 at 449 Adams St. SE when he was shot. "There were other kids in the backyard at the party -- they know what happened," Molson said.

Two masked gunmen in a minivan gunned down Willie E. Benson, 19, in the early hours of July 30, 2005 at Godwin Avenue SE and Dickinson Street. Relatives like Benson's sister, Pamela Webster, who is featured in the service announcement, still have no answers.

Chad McElwee, 34, was killed May 21, 2008 while sitting in his truck near Pleasant Street SE and Cass Avenue. Police said McElwee was slain by bullets meant for his unidentified passenger but no one has been arrested. The victim's mother, Patricia McElwee, took part in the service announcements.

E-mail Cassie Foss:

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Members of Peace4 the Missing

Find more videos like this on PEACE4 THE MISSING

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Father of Donna Jou Pushes for Craigslist Change

Peace4 the Missing's Reza, Father of Donna Jou, Pushes for Craigslist Change

"The father of a college student whose body was dumped in the Pacific Ocean by a convicted sex offender she met through Craigslist is asking the Web site's president to implement measures to detect convicted sex offenders who use the site.

Donna Jou's parents get answers about her death

Los Angeles Times 1 month ago

John Steven Burgess, who has pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter, says he 'gave her to the sea.' It was nearly two years ago that 19-year-old Donna Jou left home with a man she met on the Internet and then disappeared. Full Article at Los Angeles Times
  1. AP Photo logo AP Photo 1 month ago
  2. Mother, Nili Jou, right, is comforted by attorney Gloria Allred, center, as father, Reza Jou, the parents of San Diego University student Donna Jou leave a meeting with John Steven Burgess Thursday May 7, 2009 in Los Angeles.

    Mother, Nili Jou, right, is comforted by attorney Gloria Allred, center, as father, Reza Jou, the parents of San Diego University student Donna Jou leave a meeting with John Steven Burgess Thursday May 7, 2009 in Los Angeles. View Photo »

    We believe that convicted sexual predators should not be permitted to place an ad on Craigslist
  3. SOURCE: San Diego Union Tribune 4 weeks ago

Father Pushes Craigslist Change

By Lisa Baldwin
POSTED: Thursday, May 21, 2009
UPDATED: 6:50 pm CDT May 21, 2009

The father of a college student whose body was dumped in the Pacific Ocean by a convicted sex offender she met through Craigslist is asking the Web site's president to implement measures to detect convicted sex offenders who use the site.

  • READ IT: Statement By Reza Jou
  • WATCH IT: Craigslist Blamed For Daughter's Death

  • NASA engineer Reza Jou and his Los Angeles-based attorney, Gloria Allred, have sent a letter asking for a meeting with Craiglist's president.

    So far, they have not received a response."If they would fix their system to identify the advertiser, if it's somebody like a criminal, they shouldn't be allowed to advertise unless they reveal their identity," Jou said.

    Convicted sex offender John Steven Burgess, 36, was sentenced to five years after pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the death of missing college student Donna Jou, 19.

    Jou is from Clear Lake but was attending college in California when she disappeared two years ago.

    Burgess recently admitted dumping her body in the Pacific Ocean.

    He claims Donna Jou overdosed on drugs he gave her, although there is no physical evidence to back that up since her body was never found.

    Local 2 News was unable to reach Craigslist for comment.

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    Monday, June 15, 2009

    Missing and Unidentified Persons State Ambassadors (Advocates) Needed!


    Here is our chance to literally represent our own states as a Missing and Unidentified Persons Hero or...Ambassador...or we could just do it because we care and are honored to be a part of this Historical, National, Essential and Vital PROCLAMATION!

    You will receive all info. necessary to MAKE IT HAPPEN, all you need to have is a willing heart and a passion for creating much needed change...not to mention a desire to leave a legacy on this nation we live in that will surely outlast you and make all those who come after you inspired by your example.

    So, this is an easy, I want to do, we are lucky, I think, for this opportunity to be apart of something we can prove to be our Peace4 Change! Leave your name and state you're volunteering to to be the ambassador for Missing and Unidentified Persons of...and get ready to actively change this world, for so much the better.

    Missing & Unidentified Persons Awareness Day / by Governor Proclamation - state by state
    Still need advocates to help - (must be residents of these states remaining)
    Once we have a volunteer for that state they will be given a draft of proclamation with state statistic specific to that state, and instruction as how to make the proclamation request.

    New Hampshire
    New Jersey
    New Mexico
    North Dakota
    Rhode Island
    South Dakota
    West Virginia

    If your state is not listed, feel free to leave a volunteer to help its Advocate/Ambassador comment here as well. If you have any kind of even somewhat connection with a political leader...please utilize it...let's network together and make this happen!

    Again, please leave the state you are advocating for (and of which you reside within) in a comment below...and THANK YOU!

    God Bless...xoxoxoxo



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    The search for 14-year-old Amber DuBois Update

    (CNN) -- The parents of a California teen who disappeared on her way to school in February have closed the center that was the staging ground for search efforts, citing a lack of volunteers and a shift in direction.

    Loved ones say Amber Leeanne DuBois, 14, would never go anywhere without telling her parents or friends.

    Loved ones say Amber Leeanne DuBois, 14, would never go anywhere without telling her parents or friends.

    But the parents of 14-year-old Amber DuBois say the search will continue with a small group of dedicated volunteers.

    "We're absolutely going to keep going. Anyone who wants to volunteer can log onto Amber's site ( and see where we're going to meet," Amber's father, Maurice DuBois, said.

    The decision to close the center -- a nondescript, 7,500-square foot building donated by an Escondido businessman -- did not come easily.

    "I don't want people to have the impression that we're giving up. I'm scared that the fact we're closing will make people stop volunteering, but we still need them because we won't stop looking until we find her," DuBois said.

    Initially, hundreds volunteered to assist in the search for Amber, who was last seen walking to Escondido High School on February 13. Relatives, friends and members of the community have met at the center every weekend since to plan searches and pick up fliers for distribution throughout San Diego County.

    As time passed without progress, the number of volunteers dwindled and leads slowed to a trickle, while bills for liability insurance, telephone service and electricity continued to come in.

    Amber's mother said she never liked spending time at the center because it was a constant reminder that her daughter was missing. And while she is saddened by the implications of its closure, she maintains hope that the decision will help advance their efforts. Hear Amber's parents describe her childhood »

    "It makes me sad because we used to have over 200 volunteers a day and now we have about 10," Carrie McGonigle said. "But people have lives, and even though I just want them to look for Amber, it's a lot of time to ask of someone. This way, we can use her search and rescue fund for getting the word out nationwide."

    Based on the time and location where Amber was last seen on February 13 by two witnesses who knew her, she should have crossed in front of a school surveillance camera about 100 yards away, Escondido Police Lt. Bob Benton said.

    But she never made it, and around the same time, a red truck appeared in surveillance camera footage from a school bus parking lot. The quality of the image prevents identification of the truck, and authorities are still seeking to find out why it was there, Benton said.

    Otherwise, investigators have been stymied by a lack of viable leads.

    The "good news" is that searchers have covered a large chunk of Escondido without finding a body, which means they can take a new approach, said Mark Klaas, founder and president of KlaasKids Foundation, a child safety advocacy group.

    "They've combed the area and found nothing, so it's time for a new direction," said Klaas, who created the foundation in 1994 to give meaning to the kidnapping and murder of his daughter, Polly.

    Klaas said he met with the family on the weekend to discuss the possibility that the bookish teen is a victim of a human trafficking ring that sold her into the sex trade.

    "There's no doubt that there is a very robust and vigorous human trafficking problem in that part of the country, in and around San Diego, near the border. Unfortunately, you have to consider the scenarios: She's dead, she ran away or she was kidnapped," he said.

    "It's about keeping hope alive and giving the family a way to remain proactive in the case," he said. "They have to keep hope alive because as soon as they throw in the towel, it's all over and there's no hope for this kid."

    Benton said investigators were considering all potential angles, including the possibility that Amber had been abducted, but did not elaborate.

    Amber's parents agree that it's up to them to keep the case alive, which is why they are expanding search efforts beyond San Diego County.

    "At this point we've saturated San Diego County with fliers and publicity, so if she were in San Diego County and someone saw her, we'd know it by now," DuBois said.

    "Four months is a long time. I feel she was abducted by a stranger and who knows where she could be at this point. She could be anywhere. It's very difficult to think about, but it's a harsh reality."

    Peace4 the Missing
    Missing Persons and Target of Abuse Awareness and Support

    The Father of Donna Jou's Plea for Justice

    The Father of Donna Jou's Plea for Justice

    I have a missing child case which repositioned by California Court recently.

    A convicted child molester, has drugged my child, killed her, and dumped her in Pacific Ocean. He got only 5 years (2.5 years with good behavior)—NO JUSTICE, for more information please click on WWW.DONNAJOU.COM

    Please read my “Victim Impact Statement”


    Reza Jou, PE (missing Donna Jou's dad)
    International Space Station - Space Exploration

    Reza Jou’s Statement to the Superior Court of California in Los Angeles, California, May 18, 2009

    My name is Reza Jou, I am Donna Jou’s father, and I am here to be the voice for my innocent child who is not here to defend herself.

    I am here to plead for your help finding my missing child and address difficulties I have encountered for the past 23 months.

    Donna has been and remains an integral part of my being; her beautiful image at all times is in my mind.

    I was blessed with her presence for short nineteen years. I will never forget the day she was born. I was in the birthing room, a proud father, seeing his daughter for the first time, her beautiful face with her big bright eyes. Unlike other newborns, she did not cry; instead, she opened her eyes upon arrival in this wild, unpredictable world and just stared at me. I fell in love with her that exact moment, such a beautiful day it was, one of my best days ever. She brought sunshine to my life. I lived and breathed for her, I had so many dreams for her, many already accomplished and the others yet to be.

    Donna is a simple, loving, giving person, an intelligent, artistic, hard working, and ambitious college girl. She trusted people and made a decision based on her trusting nature. It was a decision made out of naïveté but it was well intentioned.

    I always admired her for her selflessness, kindness, generosity, and big heart. She worked as a volunteer in Battered Women Shelters and participated in other charitable works she came to love. She wants to be a physician and promised to be my personal doctor in my old age.

    Donna played basketball for Clear Lake High School during academic year 2004-2005.

    She was tutoring mathematics during her last two years of high school, donated many hours of her time to help her fellow students.

    Donna worked full time as a volunteer in St. John Hospital's Pathology Laboratories under direction of Dr. Moore, summer 2005.

    During her senior year in High School, she took a course named "Independent Study Mentorship (ISM)" Under direction of her mentor NASA senior scientist/Dr. Deborah Harm, she studied Neurophysiology, Vestibular System, Spaceflight negative effects on astronauts' balance upon their return to Earth. This was at National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Johnson Space Center (JSC), Houston, Texas.

    Donna was admitted to the NASA's Summer High School Apprenticeship Research Program or “SHARP” for Summer 2006.

    Donna graduated form High School in May 2006, GPA 4.4, SAT scores of 1,570 out of 1600.

    She went to San Diego State University, planning to satisfy her pre-med requirements in 3 years and to attend Harvard or Johns Hopkins Medical School. She wants to be a neurosurgeon.

    Donna completed her freshman year, was a straight “A” student and made it to the Dean’s List. I was always so proud of her accomplishments.

    I was also very involved in her day-to-day life. We exchanged e-mails regularly and spoke daily; she used to call me every evening to wish me good night.

    Her disappearance
    My normal, happy life came to an end on June 23, 2007 when my daughter, Donna disappeared. It has been 693 long and grueling days since I last heard her gentle laugh. She was ripped away from us senselessly, for unknown reasons. With never a good-bye, all I have to rely on are my wonderful memories of our good times together. She vanished so violently, torn away from us without a trace.

    Her absence is unbearable; I am in constant pain. She was the sun and the sun has now stopped shining. Hardly anything interests me anymore except finding her and bringing her back home. Only then I will be able to start living again.

    I try to put on the face that others want to see, that hopefully provides them some comfort as they too confront the same tragedy. Inside me, there is a total void--a void that leaves me unrecognizable to myself. My face that once smiled readily and often is now stained with tears---a face that looks, waits, and hopes for a miracle.

    There is little emotional reserve left in me. My world consists of feelings of loss and loneliness. Every day is as agonizing as the next if not worse than the one before. The helplessness I feel frequently makes life almost unbearable. each day I awaken, my will to live seems to weaken, kept alive only by the hope that Donna may still come back home to us one day.

    Donna had her whole life ahead of her. She was abruptly taken away from us. The last family member to see her, my son waved what was to be the last goodbye to her as my daughter departed with a man who, until that time, she had never met personally. That man was later identified as John Steven Burgess, a person who my daughter met on Craigslist and who, we later would learn, had a dark and sinister past as a convicted child molester.

    Shortly after Donna’s disappearance, Mr. Burgess fled the area, later to be captured by police across the country in Jacksonville, Florida, charged with possession of crack cocaine. Arrested at that time, he was subsequently extradited to California and afterwards sentenced by a California Court to three years in State Prison on charges unrelated to Donna's disappearance.

    Throughout his incarceration, from the time of his capture to early March 2009 (for almost 20 months), he had absolutely refused to say anything about my daughter's whereabouts even though it was clear that he acted suspiciously in so many ways immediately following Donna's disappearance.

    On every occasion provided him until early March 2009, Mr. Burgess has steadfastly refused to reveal what he knows about Donna's whereabouts. In the meantime, for nearly 2 years now, the family has suffered and continues to suffer daily without knowing where Donna may be or whether or not she is even still alive. It has been an agonizing, excruciating experience for us all and each day it seems we suffer more than the last. We live in a constant state of dark depression not knowing if or when we will ever see our child again.

    As Mr. Burgess was due to be released from prison on March 14, 2009, it was critical that the grand jury review the details surrounding this case and determine whether or not he should be indicted or released back into society as a free man.

    The investigative grand jury led to Mr. Burgess’ confession and subsequently, based on his statement, he was charged on 4 counts consisting of Involuntary Manslaughter, Concealment of Accidental Death and 2 other charges).

    Despite his confession, the facts of this case in no way FULLY support the statements given by Mr. Burgess as to what happened between my daughter and him after the mid night of June 23, 2007.

    The fact of the matter is that Mr. Burgess’ confession serves ONLY one person in this case ---- and that is Mr. Burgess himself. His confession has gained Mr. Burgess the least severe sanction he could possibly have received, a charge that will keep him in prison for a minimal time only and that will, once again, provide him license to commit whatever heinous crimes he will choose to perpetrate upon innocent victims in the future. This human predator will be looking for his next victim the day he walks out of prison! What better reason than for him to fabricate a self-serving story that has no basis in fact.

    Nothing has been developed in the course of this investigation to back up Mr. Burgess’ story as to what really happened to my child AFTER the mid night of June 23, 2009.

    There are very few known facts in this case. There are no witnesses to address what happened between Donna and Burgess after midnight on June 23, the date of her disappearance. No DNA evidence has been detected.

    In fact, nobody has seen my daughter dead or alive after midnight on June 23, 2007, and a body has yet to be discovered. The system is using Burgess as the sole source of information and, as such, Burgess, for all practical purposes, has been enabled by the LAW OF THIS STATE to "pick" the severity of the sanctions allowed, given the severity of the crimes he would like us to believe he committed.

    Allowing Burgess the opportunity to "fictionalize" his crimes in order to minimize his culpability and resulting sanctions is terribly distressing to all of us who love Donna so dearly and are desperate to find out what really happened to her.

    The situation is that, despite any tangible evidence, we are expected to believe whatever Burgess says happened to my daughter. We are expected to accept his story as if it were based in fact. But where are the facts to support his story? The answer is that there are none.

    As a father, let me pose a question to the court and the investigative team and other legal authorities who have been involved in this case…..
    - Would you, as a father or a mother of a missing child, accept an explanation from a convicted criminal as to what happened to your loved one, to a daughter of yours who just happened to vanish off the face of the earth?
    - Would Burgess’ confession be credible to you and your family?
    - Would you quit looking for your daughter if Burgess presented a story to you as he has done to us, if he told you a similar story about the fate of your loved one?
    - Would Burgess' story give you “CLOSURE”?
    - Would it give you “PEACE”?

    As a responsible father, I tell you today that I can not live with his “CONFESSION” because it is baseless in fact and it demeans us all and leads us further away from the truth. It is a cruel, cruel joke that Mr. Burgess is playing on us, his evil laughter falling on deaf ears. Today, I ask the court and the legal authorities involved in this case to continue to keep this investigation open and active until we discover the truth about what happened to our dearly loved daughter.

    Justice is only being PARTIALLY served today, in that we are taking John Steven Burgess off the street where he can not harm another person, at least for awhile. But our Donna is still out there and she MUST be found.

    I, as a devastated father, plead today to this high court and to the respectable authorities to ensure justice for Donna Jou and our family by continuing their efforts in full force to find our beloved Donna and to bring her back home to us.

    My grief, rage, and searching continues. If it takes my entire life to find the truth of my daughter's disappearance, so be it. I will continue to search for my child until she is found, until my last breath.

    To Mr. Burgess,

    You took my daughter’s life and tarnished her reputation in death, and permanently scaring my family grieving her death,
    As much as I would like to address you today as a father, which you and I both happen to be, I know my words about the heartache your actions have caused my family, my telling you of the terrible sadness you have caused will not resonate with you.

    You are incapable of being sympathetic or empathetic with another human being and, for that, I can simply say, one human being to another that makes me sad for you.
    If you are unable to feel love yourself, then my telling you how much Donna was loved and how much she is missed will be of no consequence to you.

    When I tell you what a grand human being she was, all the things she aspired to in life, all the good deeds she was doing and planned to do, none of this will mean a thing to you. I know this and it makes you a very sad human being and it makes me sad for you.

    All of your actions are destined to harm others in unspeakable ways. When I tell you that the only way we have, as a society to control your behaviors toward society, is to incarcerate you for the rest of your life, that makes you a very sad human being, and I am once again saddened for you.

    Mr. Burgess, I suspect your mind, your emotions, your feelings are just as incarcerated and as dead as your body has and will be. There is an old cliché you must have heard that before "the truth shall set you free". The only freedom you can ever truly count on in life is to be free in your mind and in your heart and in your soul. Even for you, Mr. Burgess, as sick a man as you must be, there is a possibility to be free. I hope somehow, someday soon you give yourself the opportunity to be free in your mind, in your heart and in your soul by telling the truth about what you really did to Donna.

    I will try my very best to forgive you. I know it will take time but it will come. Of this I am sure. I wish you no ill will today. I only wish for the WHOLE truth, nothing less than the whole truth. He must tell us the truth, he must tell us what torture he inflicted on my lovely baby before he killed her. Perhaps some day, you will understand the value of the truth and you too will finally be set free, not in body necessarily, but certainly in your heart and soul.

    Thank you for letting me have the opportunity to address you today.

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    Sunday, June 14, 2009

    Create your own Custom Unidentified Persons Database Links with this Simple Tool from NamUs!

    Create your own Custom State and County Missing and Unidentified Persons Links via this incredibly quick, easy and "change the world tool" on the NamUs website!

    This is vital information of those in your specific geographical area who are in the Namus Unidentified Persons System Database.

    It seriously couldn't be simpler to use, merely click on your county and/or state from the drop down menu of options, click create and a simple "copy/paste" code is automatically generated! I "created" the below links for Ottawa County and Michigan in literally less than 3 seconds...

    Ottawa County Michigan Unidentified Decedents

    Michigan Unidentified Decedents

    Please go there now and make your own custom links, post them wherever you're able and spread the word!

    Missing Loved Ones could soon be found because you took the time (again, this only takes seconds to do) to care and participate in awareness efforts. And if it sounds like I am excited about this, you're right, I am! Many Thanks to Todd Matthews of NamUs for sharing this resource!

    Now go and get ready to (in less than one minute) pat yourself on the back for these efforts...kudos to're a really good person... ;)

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    Saturday, June 13, 2009

    Susan Murphy Milano: Breaking My Own Chains of Fear

    Friday, June 12, 2009

    Susan Murphy Milano: Breaking My Own Chains of Fear

    Suddenly, the divorce was being contested. The son’s father had a new expensive attorney representing him. She wondered how he could afford a four hundred dollar an hour attorney from the largest law firm in town.The woman was summoned to court on an emergency order filed by her husband’s lawyer. She could not figure out for the life of her what was happening. In court, both of their lawyers filed their appearances on behalf of their clients.

    Immediately, the judge ordered the case sealed. The court determined she was a public figure, and it would not be in her child’s best interest if people had access to their personal information. The judge without a hearing granted the removal and temporary custody of her son to his father. The mother was devastated.

    They left out the courtroom, the woman asked to speak with her son’s father for a moment.“Why are you doing this? We had an agreement.” He smiled. “Had, meaning past tense.

    We no longer have an agreement. All I am going to tell you is watch your back. You have pissed off a lot of people in this town who want to see you go down.” He excused himself and left.

    Later that day, the woman met privately with someone from city government, hoping they would be able to provide answers to her questions.

    “You have not only embarrassed the city, you cost them a tremendous amount of money in assisting families by filing wrongful deathlawsuits on their behalf.”

    “What are you talking about, she asked?”

    “You heard me,” said the city official.

    “Who is behind this?” she demanded to know.

    “I am not at liberty to disclose details. I will tell you that you better re-think how you are assisting your clients. Make sure you have release forms indicating you are an advocate, not a lawyer and signed by every single client. Cause they ain’t finished with you yet. Lay low for awhile. I would not do any media interviews if I were you. Tighten your seat belt, you are in for a bumpy ride”

    The woman thanked him for his time and left. The woman’s divorce had turned into another war.

    She had no strength left to fight this battle. Her son, like so many women who lose custody of their children as another way to manipulate and control their victims was now a casualty of the cruel and common tactics often used in divorce as one parent attempts to send the other out for slaughter. This experience was similar to what the woman witnessed while helping others to whom she had provided assistance, watching while abusers continued to victimize women and their children, as they were ending the relationship with the person.

    As with all battered women her emotional mental stability became a major issue before the judge in court, due to accusations from the son’s father, citing that she had grown up in a violent household and how her father had killed her mother in 1989.

    Yes, the woman I speak of is me.

    “She’s crazy!” the lawyer said during the next status hearing in court, using newspaper articles about me advocating for other victims and my parents’ death certificates to make his irrelevant point. He waived them like a flag in front of the judge. Proving his ignorance of victimology he exclaimed “your Honor, we ask the court to consider the public life lived and led by the plaintiff.

    She speaks, lives and breathes her parents’ tragedy.

    At this time we feel it is in the best interest of the minor child and his safety to ask that continued temporary custody be awarded to my client, the child’s father, until such time as Ms. Murphy-Milano can be seen by a psychiatrist to determine her fitness as a parent. Additionally, we have filed a motion with the court ordering a mental health evaluation.”

    In disbelief my lawyer said “Your honor, I object. The only harm being done to the minor child is this child's father denying access to his mother. If council is so insistent on a mental health assessment, then I respectfully ask the court for an evaluation on Mr. Milano,” responded my lawyer. I sat at the table with my attorney, stunned by the lies from my son’s father. My attorney objected to the motion, saying there was no basis for the allegations the other side was presenting.

    “Conveniently taking what my client does to help others is not a valid reason to deny visitation or remove custody. Your Honor, the respondent has manufactured lies, there is no proof to back up these outrageous allegations,”said my attorney.

    “It’s best for the child that we err on the side of caution,” responded the judge.

    The judge ruled that both my son’s father and I schedule mental health evaluations with a person chosen by the courts. In the meantime, no decision would be made as to when I would be allowed to have visitation with my son. The judge wanted to wait until after the mandated evaluations.

    I knew this process could take months. It was clear my son’s father was angry with me for ending the marriage, and he was going to use my son to teach me a painful lesson. Denying access to my son was devastating. Now I was in the same boat without oars to row, like many other women to whom I had provided assistance. More importantly, my son was a helpless pawn in his father’s sick game. With the tables reversed, I was alone. I had similar feelings when my mother died. My son had been ripped away from me. I knew where all of this was headed and I wanted no part of it. I was unable to fight both the legal system and now my son’s father.

    Whoever was behind this master plan wanted me out of the way. The words my son’s father used in court were like daggers thrown at perfect aim, straight at my heart. Because the court records to my divorce had been sealed, any hope of regaining visitation or custody of my son was sealed as well. The powers that be knew the media would have no access to the divorce case file. And would likely not investigate what was happening in the divorce proceeding because the proceedings and records were closed off to the public.The legal system and the political machine were punishing me for refusing to play ball. The divorce was final with custody issues in reserve to be revisited at a later date.

    Suddenly, I did not feel worthy as a mother. I questioned my faith in the legal system and in God.

    People use fear to silence other people. For nearly 2o years that tactic has worked on me, until now. Pandora's box has been opened and without my knowledge. The 1993, seal on my divorce lifted and the contents now open to the public for which I have provided a link HERE for anyone interested. (Case Information Cook County, Illinois, Summary for Case Number 1993D012470)

    I only learned the file was unsealed after receiving a phone call from a person from another State where I resided from 2000-2006. My son's father was well aware that I moved back to Illinois. And I have documentation of our correspondence from my son's father at my Cook County, Illinois, mailing address. Once again he has used a back handed method to have a legal case proceed without my knowledge. I was not legally or properly served. It also shows on the court docket computer screen that I "participated" in a few hearings which makes me wonder if my former husband had a woman in court pretending to be me?

    Fear should have died with my father. Instead the power of the secrets that have held my heart in chains die as I press this send button, now.

    Stay tuned to part two of this series "Disabling Secrets Empowers Our Truth" Monday, June 15, 2009.

    Friday, June 12, 2009

    You're Invited to Peace4's Online Radio Show 1st Birthday Party featuring Todd Matthews!

    Happy 1st Birthday, Peace4!

    Please celebrate with us tonight, June 12th at 6pm EST via our online, interactive Radio Show featuring the Legendary Todd Matthews!!

    Hoping that as many of you as possible are able to call in and share your story, this is your chance to speak out and be heard...let's utilize it!

    Link to the show...

    Peace4 is a support and awareness group network for Missing Persons, Targets of Abuse, In Need of Justice Homicides.

    Todd Matthew's calling to be a voice for missing and unidentified persons began when he solved the identity of the "Tent Girl" case, Barbara Hackman-Taylor, after a ten-year journey that ended in 1998.
    Todd Matthews
    He is also Medi a Director for the Doe Network, a consultant on a pending series for Emmy-award winning producer Dick Wolf ("Law & Order"), and on the Advisory Panel for the U. S. Department of Justice (National Missing and Unidentified Persons System) database project.

    Todd has appeared on many national television shows, including "Leeza," "America's Most Wanted," "48 Hours," "TechTV," "Good Morning America," and the "Paula Zahn Show." Articles about him and his advocacy work have appeared in hundreds of newspapers and periodicals, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, USA Today, and People Magazine. He hosts a weekly radio show, called Missing Pieces that publicizes unidentified and missing persons cases.

    A documentary broadcast featuring Todd was recently broadcast on the BBC. A second documentary about his life is in production.

    NamUs /Southeast Region
    Regional Systems Administrator
    NamUs - National Missing and
    Unidentified Persons System

    Peace4 the Missing...these are our stories...

    Please join us at Peace4 the Missing
    Missing Persons Awareness and Support Network

    Tuesday, June 9, 2009

    Susan Murphy Milano's Journal: Who Killed Renee Pagel?

    Susan Murphy Milano's Journal: Who Killed Renee Pagel?

    The question is not that Renee Pagel was found stabbed to death in the former marital residence while recovering after donating a kidney to one of her students parents.

    The question is why haven't police arrested the person responsible for Renee's murder?!

    Everyone, please leave a TON of comments over at Susan Murphy-Milano's post about Renee Pagel! This is a direct line communication resource to many major media outlets that regularly read her blog!

    Susan, thank you for making me aware of this case and being such a strong voice for Renee!

    Justice for Renee facebook group, please join and spread the word to others, thanks!


    Please join us at Peace4 the Missing
    Missing Persons Awareness and Support Network

    Monday, June 8, 2009

    Marianne's Voice for the Missing

    Marianne is the mother of missing Michelle Angela Yarnell. She was born in Missouri and has spent the biggest part of her life living in the Central Missouri area. Her husband Tommy is her rock. Without him, she said she would not have been able to make it through the last five years of searching for her daughter.

    Her son, Eric, also lives in Central Missouri. Shealso has a 9-year-old granddaughter and two step-sons, Tommy Chapman Jr. and the late Danny Chapman. Danny died shortly before Angie went missing.

    Besides being a mother, wife, grandmother, sister and daughter, Marianne enjoys reading, music and art, and she loves animals. She also enjoys spending time with her family.

    Searching diligently for her daughter has become a way of life she would trade for anything.Missing Persons Awareness and Support Network

    Sunday, June 7, 2009

    Murderer Among Us, Rockford, MI - Who Killed Renee?

    RENEE PAGELMURDERED8.5.06Rockford,Michigan
    Renee was stabbed to death in her own home at 9050 13 Mile Road, while recovering from donating a kidney to the father of one of her students...just days before her divorce was to be finalized. She was a mother of three young children; a nurse and teacher; and had a passion for third world medical missions. Her estranged husband, Michael Pagel, is the ONLY person who has not voluntarily cooperated with police, nor has he provided an alibi to police for the night of Renee's murder. He retains custody of the couple's children, and remains the ONLY suspect in this case. Click here for more information on The ONLY Suspect
    Renee's estranged husband, Michael Pagel, remains the ONLY suspect in Renee's murder.

    Renee's husband, Michael Pagel, is the only person who has not voluntarily interviewed with police and has not provided an alibi to police for the night Renee was murdered. He has custody of the couple's three children. He has recently moved
    them from his sister's house in Hudsonville, to live in a private hunting compound (Mid Forest Lodge) in Prudenville, Michigan, near Houghton Lake.

    Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him; do
    not fret when men succeed in their evil ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes....

    Psalm 37:7

    Please join us at Peace4 the Missing
    Missing Persons Awareness and Support Network

    Thursday, June 4, 2009

    The Powerful Knowledge of Self-Defense Training


    A perpetrator expects a female to try to run away, cower, beg, plead and/or cry. When she steps into the storm, it messes him up as he isn’t use to this reaction. There are many things that a female can learn to do to protect herself.

    Learning self-defense not only helps prevent attacks but also builds self-esteem. Individuals learn to determine their personal, physical and emotional boundaries.

    Consider training to be “Life Extension Insurance”.

    Training is offered to females starting at age 5.

    No pass or fail; just a commitment to yourself AND EMPOWERMENT.

    There are no guarantee’s in any personal safety/self-defense training course. However, it’s better to do something rather than nothing. Again, knowledge is a powerful tool.

    The Realistic Female Self-Defense Company - Anny Jacoby

    Personal Safety Requires an Actively Aware Self


    Awareness is the first step to self-defense. You can't live your life expecting a problem, but you have to train yourself to be more alert and elevate your level of awareness of your surroundings.


    Speaker, Survivor, Advocate and Personal Safety Instructor


    A self-defense course can empower you with a few techniques and ideas to interrupt an assault long enough to escape. There are no guarantees. Anyone can be victimized even if you have taken a self-defense course. Once you’ve completed a self-defense course it’s up to you to put the information you gained to work for you in your day-to-day life.

    The Children of Divorce - They are America's Voiceless Victims

    America's Voiceless-Wake Up Call to Action

    by Susan Murphy-Milano

    The Children of Divorce - They are America's Voiceless

    When people start a new relationship it is as though Cinderella and her Prince stepped out of that childhood story. A more realistic way to look at it is to think of it as two people who are running for office, campaigning to be in the other person’s life. Forget that it is not who they will be later in life. We are too busy getting the other person to “choose us” so we can live happily ever after. There is, bad habits early on in the relationship we never see. For instance, leaving dirty clothes scattered, drinking directly out of the juice carton, putting a dirty knife back in the drawer and watching from around the corner as they lick it clean, washing is too much effort. Both sides hide their bad habits when they begin dating, because they are too busy running for the highest office in the country, ultimately the office of marriage and parenthood.

    This fantasy life fades as people grow together in a relationship. Unfortunately, about sixty percent grow apart during the marriage.

    When the marriage ends it is like a house set on fire. All desired hopes, dreams and commitment cherished by both sides, up in smoke. But, we forget that the child of this relationship has yet to lay the foundation of their lives.

    Divorce on any level, is devastating. For children, their warm, safe world is suddenly shattered like a broken toy, in many pieces. When parents begin to divorce, do they really stop and think about the children? All too often, the children fall under the invisible heading of “power base” or worse yet, “negotiable”.

    A child’s life during a divorce is like a roller coaster, going up minute and down the next. Parents are keeping score of their child’s affection as though they were at a sporting event. Both parents fear losing ground as though their competition, the other parent, chips away at there own individual “power base”. This is an automatic reaction during a divorce. If only parents would stop for a moment and realize, that children have unconditional love for each of them.

    Children were not beamed down from space to earth. They were conceived and brought into this world with the greatest expectations, and most of all love. By two people the child calls mother and father. These two people have forgotten that being a parent, role model and teacher, means not putting down the other. Or using the children to emotionally beat up the “competition”. Because, being a parent is a privilege!

    A divorce is like a funeral. Of course, there is no casket or service. But the process is the same.

    “Funeral” services begin when the parties enter their lawyers office, (I call them legal funeral directors) they help prepare for the death of their clients marriage.
    The lawyers seek out personal, confidential information about you, only to file it in a public record for the world to see.

    Attached to this public record filing is a detailed financial description, (yours) of personal property and assets acquired during the marriage.

    Somewhere between page 11 or 15 of the divorce agreement, your children are listed, like an asset, by name and age. And on yet another page, you will find the “children”, stating who gets custody when, on what days, with specific times and for how long. Can’t forget the holiday schedules, this appears on yet another page of the divorce decree. This page looks more like a major event schedule, trading odd and even years off during the holidays.

    If parents would think for a moment and get off their “power base”, they should be able to work out these very private details among themselves.

    Months, and in some cases years later a judge, who I refer to as the coroner (no disrespect intended) sit before these strangers, in a court of law, with people who once vowed to love, honor and cherish each other all the days of their lives, ask if all parties are in agreement, with the tap of his gavel, signs the death certificate (known more commonly as the divorce decree).

    I for one think this process is a crime. We allow total strangers to settle our once very happy lives. The greater crime, however, is the children, divided up among the parents like a piece of property. They are the “Voiceless Victims.”

    Please consider counseling before you proceed with ending your relationship. You need the assistance of a professional who can direct and assist you with all areas when ending any relationship. You may believe you have all the answers, but guess what, you do not. None of us do. Because the ending of a relationship is no different than taking part in a funeral of a loved one. And if you have children, it is important to guide and assist them in this devastating and life altering process. If you are in an abusive relationship, you need a safe game plan. There are many resources from free counseling to legal services. They are a phone call away. Please contact The National Coalition Hotline for these services in your area at 1-800-799-7233.

     Moving out, Moving on , is more then a simple workbook, but a
    true plan to take control of one's life and face the future head on.
    This is not just another "divorce book" written by a so called
    "expert." Moving out, Moving on , is authored by a person who truly knows...Susan Murphy-Milano

    Download Ebook HERE

    The Susan Murphy Milano Show airs each Wednesday afternoon at 4pm EST, a must hear source for all those affected by the painful cruelty of a life abused.

    Contact: ImaginePublicity