National Day of Remembrance Parents of Murdered Children

Remarks of:

Ventura County District Attorney
Gregory D. Totten

National Day of Remembrance
Parents of Murdered Children

September 25, 2012

In 2010, nearly 15,000 people were murdered or were the victims of manslaughter nationwide. This equates to one murder every 35.6 seconds. Sadly, 21 of these homicides were committed in Ventura County – a number that, thankfully, well below our average of 32 homicides per year.

Yet, statistics can never tell the whole story. For murder not only takes the life of the innocent victim, it also leaves scars and wounds on those left behind. The lives of mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, husbands and wives are forever changed – families disrupted – health and finances irreparably harmed.

Only victims truly know the trauma crime can produce. And as one victim so appropriately described it, “There is a hole in my heart that never be filled.”

[collapsible_item title=”Read More”]

In the District Attorney’s Office, we seek to bring criminals to justice because we know that the single most important thing we do for survivors is to ensure that the murderer of their loved one is held accountable.

Some murders remain unsolved and the family members of those murder victims also need support. Regardless of the outcome in court, we know that the judicial remedy will always be inadequate. We can reduce the trauma of the court proceedings, we can refer for counseling, but we cannot fill the hole in your heart that is an ever present reminder of the ravages of crime.

Tonight we acknowledge the personal struggle that every survivor must resolve within their own self on how they will live the rest of their lives. Tonight we honor the strength exhibited by these brave souls who boldly go forward with their lives.

There are countless untold stories of these heroes who in the midst of their suffering somehow manage to go on, to live life fully. And I know the stories of many of you here and stand in awe of your determination to go on and to thrive in the face of tragedy. Some of you have even chosen to daily honor your lost loved ones by joining great organizations like Parents of Murdered Children to help prevent others from becoming victims.

Let me share just one story from outside Ventura County of such determination: Her name is Collene Campbell. In 1982, her only son Scott was murdered by a family friend and another man so they could steal his car.

To conceal their crime, the two murderers dumped Scott’s body out of an airplane over the Pacific Ocean. It took three trials and six years before these cases were finally concluded with murder convictions and life sentences.

In the midst of the third trial, Collene suffered yet another loss at the hands of crime. Her brother, famed race car driver, Mickey Thompson and his wife Trudy were gunned down in the driveway of their home by two killers hired by Mickey’s former business partner. It would take nearly two decades before the business partner was brought to justice, convicted and given a life sentence.

Some may wonder how can any one person endure this much tragedy.

I must tell you that Collene has not only endured she has been an irresistible force for justice. You see, within a few short days of her son’s murder, Collene determined that she would devote every waking hour to being a champion for justice in her own family’s case and for victims across this country. And today, she is widely regarded as one of the nation’s leading advocates who has been responsible for profound changes in both federal and state laws that have improved our justice system.

So as a prosecutor, when I see the faces of survivors here today, I see heroes like Collene, people who are making a difference in the lives of others. I also see those quiet survivors who go on with life courageously who hold families together who love and are loved. I see important organizations like Parents of Murdered Children whose members are on the front lines of the battles against crime. I am humbled by your presence, grateful for the fight you bring to the cause of justice, and thank you for choosing to live life boldly and purposefully.

May God bless you and may God bless all survivors and victims.