On February 19, 1993, Shawna Denise Hawk opened her door to who she thought was a friend. Hours later her body would be found submerged in a bathtub full of water. Shawna had been raped, sodomized, and then, strangled to death by serial killer, Henry Wallace. It was not until March 9, 1994, and a total of 11 murders later that local police arrested and accused Henry Wallace. Shawna was Henry Wallace’s third victim. In January 1997, Wallace was sentenced to 9 death sentences, 10 life sentences and 322 years in prison for various charges. At this time there were no organizations or support groups dedicated to helping families of murder victims cope with the pain, sudden devastation, anger and new life situation.
On March 29, 1993, Dee Sumpter (Shawna’s mother), Judy Williams and David Howard started a support group called Mothers of Murdered Offspring. Later that year, the founders established Mothers of Murdered Offspring as a 501 (c)3 organization with a dual mission to always support families through the cycle of grief and devastation that murder causes and to created and support programs and activities that focus on the prevention of violence.
By its very nature homicide is an unexpected and devastating emotional and psychological occurrence. It affects not only the victim’s immediate and extended family, but also the victim’s network of neighbors, friends, coworkers, and others.
Mothers of Murdered Offspring (MOM-O) has historically had two principle goals, (1) to be the primary resource by which mothers and families of murder victims are supported and directed to appropriate resources, information and aid in their time of need as well as being the network by which survivors are brought together in which to support and encourage one another; (2) to develop new and innovative violence prevention and substance abuse awareness strategies through youth programs and education, gun violence prevention, relationship violence prevention and anti-drug and substance abuse campaigns and education.
We are committed to living out that mission everyday through our family support services and the Violence Prevention Initiative. However, with the effects of the economy it has been very difficult for us to continue to raise the necessary funds to support all of the families in need. Historically, Charlotte has more than 55 murders per year. From candlelight vigil to keepsakes, we spend over $300 on every family of a murder victim. This figure doesn’t include the many staff & volunteer hours spent talking, comforting and advising families during their greatest time of need and sorrow. That’s more than $16,500 a year just in Rapid Response Support. This does not include our free annual family based such as the Annual Thanksgiving Memorial Service & Family Fellowship Dinner, the SANTA Deliveries and the back to school event.
We estimate that there will be roughly 68 homicides across our service area in 2010 directly or indirectly affecting more than 1,496 people. These survivors are faced with days, weeks and years of pain, loneliness, and helplessness along with rage, grief, and sometimes guilt. They will be faced with navigating the criminal justice system, many for the first time as well as reestablishing emotional, social and psychological equilibrium. Additionally, many of these survivors are left in financial and economy despair. The essential problem is that very few community resources are dedicated to assisting survivors though these ravaging times, or educating communities on the “real life” consequences of violence and in promoting violence prevention. We believe that the two go hand in hand to reduce the number of people affected every day.
Additionally, with the need as great as ever, we have had to eliminate all of our tremendously successful youth based violence prevention programs due to the lack of funding. And nearly two years ago, we moved back to an all-volunteer staff. We are dedicated to this community and these families and will do whatever we need to support them
To that end, we humbly request your assistance. Any contribution will be used to support our family support efforts over the next year and will be a blessing to our overwhelmed SANTA Deliveries program for this holiday season. If you have any questions, please feel free to call me at 704-334-5056.
Family Support Coordinator