Memorial Wall

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This Memorial Wall is our tributes to those who have died as a result of child abuse, domestic violence, rape, religious abuse, or other types of abuse. Some of these people we knew personally, others we only heard of. Abuse is not a theoretical concept, it happens to real people, and costs lives. It's important to honor those we lost to abuse by telling their stories, so that the secret that killed them does not remain secret, and so that other lives might be saved, as a result of increased awareness.
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March 27th:
Sandra Cantu
died on March 27th, 2009

Sandra was an 8yo girl who lived with her mom, grandparents, and three older siblings in a Mobile Home park in California. She was raped and murdered by her mentally ill neighbor, Melissa Huckaby, a Sunday school teacher and a mother of Sadra's playmate.


Posted by Manya on February 10th, 2016
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March 28th:
Mark Hudson
died on March 28th, 2015

26yo Mark from Pennsylvania, USA, was a police officer shot to death by his girlfriend in his house. They had a history of abuse: six months prior to the shooting, she threatened Mark with a knife and said she wanted to kill him. He locked himself in a bedroom, called police, and later secured a protection from abuse order. The woman gave a few different explanations of what happened on March 28th, including that Mark's dog shot him by holding the gun in its mouth, and that she shot him in self defense. When sentencing the woman to 18-36 years of prison, the judge told her, "You could have easily walked away from that situation and you chose not to do that, and therefore this sentence was brought on by you and by no one else."

Mark's best friend said he never saw Mark angry or confrontational about his relationship with his girlfriend and described the victim as "an extinguisher" who strove to defuse conflict. "His love for his friends, his family, his mom, his brother was unconditional," he said. Mark's boss, Darby Police Chief Robert Smythe said Mark had a bright and promising career ahead of him in law enforcement and likely could have been chief one day. "He had a vibrant personality. He would meet people and just connect with them, because that's the way he was. He's just a person that shouldn't have been taken from us so soon."


Posted by Manya on March 10th, 2017
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March 29th:
Oksana Makar
died on March 29th, 2012

Oksana was a girl from Ukraine whose both parents were convicted of various felonies, including drug-related ones. When Oksana was little, her mom was incarcerated for armed robbery, and Oksana went to live with her grandparents. When she was in third grade, grandparents sent her to an orphanage. She tried to run away multiple times, but was caught. When Oksana was 10, her mom was released from prison, and took the girl home. Mom's boyfriend molested Oksana, mom moved to another town, and the girl was practically homeless. She only completed 6th grade, and there was a police report about her engaging in prostitution.

On March 8th (International Women's Day in Ukraine), 18yo Oksana was at a local bar. Her drink was spiked, three guys took her to their place, raped and strangled her, set her on fire, and left her for dead. She was found the next morning, taken to a hospital, and died three weeks later of burns, gangrene, pneumonia, sepsis, multiple organ failure, brain edema, and undernourishment.


Posted by Manya on February 10th, 2016
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Isabella Nardoni
died on March 29th, 2008

Isabella was a 5yo girl from Brazil who was abused and killed by her dad and stepmom. Her biological mom got pregnant with Isabella at 17, but broke up with her dad while still pregnant. Isabella lived with mom, but visited dad on weekends. She complained of being beaten there, kept asking to not go, or to leave early, and the whole family was concerned that the stepmother might hurt the child. On March 29th Isabella was thrown out of a window of her dad's apartment (sixth floor) and died in an ambulance on her way to hospital. She had injuries unrelated to the fall, and her blood was found in the apartment and in her dad's car. Stepmother said it was all Isabella's fault.


Posted by Manya on March 18th, 2016
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March 30th:
Corinne Gump
died on March 30th, 2015

10yo Corinne and her grandparents from Ohio, USA, died in a housefire hours before she was going to testify against her mom's boyfriend, because she said he was molesting her for five years. He was out on bail at the time of fire. "We woke up and heard an explosion," said the grandparents' neighbor. "We looked out and saw flames in every room of the house. Not just the basement. Not just the living room. Everything was on fire. Windows were blown out, doors ripped off hinges. Even if they were awake, they couldn't have made it out." Days after the fire, the man tried to bribe his ex-wife, so that she would testify that Corinne made up the story of sexual abuse. She refused, and the trial proceeded. Here's what Corinne's relatives and neighbors said about her:

"She was a beautiful child with a soft heart and her mommy's smarts. She was daddy's princess, and she always slept with her daddy's gray tank tops. She had a quirky attitude and touched many people's lives in her 10 short years. She was a night owl and enjoyed playing games, riding four-wheelers and bikes, swimming and playing outside with her friends." "That little girl was the pride and joy of her grandparents. She listened to whatever they said. She and her grandparents got along so well. That family really will be missed."


Posted by Manya on March 27th, 2016
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March 31st:
Salwa Haydar
died on March 31st, 2015

58yo Salwa Haydar was a mother of four, stabbed to death by her husband. Their 18yo daughter Ola tried to protect her mom, but received a serious hand injury. Mrs Haydar worked for a welfare office, assisting victims of domestic violence, after the family immigrated from Lebanon to Australia to avoid the bombings (Mrs Haydar's mother was killed in one).


Posted by Manya on February 4th, 2016
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Aaron Bacon
died on March 31st, 1994

Aaron was a 16yo boy from South California who asked his parents to transfer him to a public school because he felt his private school "wasn't providing enough socioeconomic diversity." He was a bright kid, wrote poetry, but soon after the school transfer he was caught smoking pot and was suspected of affiliating with a school gang (though he vehemently denied it). Parents panicked, took out a second mortgage, and sent Aaron to a North Star wilderness therapy program, costing $13,900 for a 63-day course, plus another $775 to have Aaron surprised at 1Am by being dragged out of his bed barefoot and forcibly "escorted" to location (something North Star strongly recommended).

Out of 20 days on the trail, Aaron had been forced to go without a sleeping bag for 14 days, without a blanket for 4 days (three of which were marked by below-freezing temperatures), and without food for 11 days, plus four days on which he had only meal, and one day on which his only food was a lizard and a scorpion. Aaron soiled himself uncontrollably, was unable to walk, see, or hear, and other kids in the group said that he looked "like he was from Auschwitz or Ethiopia," yet the camp counselors felt he was faking it till he died.

Here's one of Aaron's poems:

Dreaming with a heart full of wonder
And a mind full of knowledge
Our thirst for life and love
Does not set with the sun behind us.


Posted by Manya on October 17th, 2015
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April 1st:
Peter McCloskey
died on April 1st, 2006

37yo Peter McCloskey was sexually abused by an Irish Catholic priest in early 1980s when Peter was a 10yo altar boy. Nothing was done about it at the time, even though there were multiple complaints about this priest. Peter and his family spent years trying to reveal the truth about what happened him and to have it acknowledged. He committed suicide three days after one of the meeting with the church officials, which his brother described as "a horrendous experience." Peter left a note that said "I have done everything that I could to survive. There's nothing left to do."

After his death, the diocese of Limerick released a statement acknowledging the truth of Peter McCloskey's experience of clerical child sexual abuse, and that the information available at that time should have prevented the priest who molested him from taking up ministry in Limerick. "Peter was a man of extraordinary honesty, integrity and courage. His commitment to the truth demands that all involved work to fully examine and address the grave issues which have been raised as a result of Peter's tragic death. All involved acknowledge that this will be a challenging and at times uncomfortable process but we affirm our commitment to work together to that end," concluded the statement. You can read Peter's whole story, including his mom's memories of his childhood, by clicking on his name.


Posted by Manya on March 11th, 2017
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April 2nd:
Christian Choate
died on April 2nd, 2009

13yo Christian from Indiana, USA was physically and sexually abused as a young child in his mom's home, so he moved to live with his father, stepmother, and nine other kids, all in a single-wide trailer. When his was about 9yo, his father saw him acting sexually inappropriate with another relative. The father and stepmom explained to the kids that Christian was a "dog", purchased a dog cage from a neighbor, and chained the boy inside it. He was subjected to frequent beatings and starvation, had to wear a diaper, and was only allowed out of the cage to clean, eat, or use the bathroom. Sometimes he was chained to a bed frame where his dad punched, kicked, and beat him with a metal pole on the head. He was choked until he turned purple and forced to take cold baths. His hands and feet were often bound, leaving his arms and legs so damaged he could barely walk. When the kids' grandma would visit, Christian was kept in a locked room in their trailer home with a blanket over his cage so she wouldn't notice him.

Stepmother gave Christian pen and paper, as well as topics to write about, such as "Why do you want to play with your peter? Why do you still want to see your mom? Why can't you let the past go? What does it mean to be part of a family?" Department of Child Services released Christian's letters to the public; he wondered when, "someone, anyone, was going to check on him". He "wanted to be liked by his family". He was "isolated", "hungry" and "wanted to die".

The neighbor (who unknowingly sold the family the dog cage) was concerned about welfare of the children. She called Department of Child Services, and said she remembers watching a DCS staffer stop by the home in 2008. "She never even stepped foot in the house," the neighbor said."(Stepmother) came out of the house and stood there at the sidewalk and talked to the lady, and I just remember thinking, 'Go inside'."

On April 2nd, 2009, Christian refused to eat. His father responded by punching him multiple times in the head, then tossing him back in his cage. Christian died of blunt trauma, internal bleeding, and a skull fracture. "Nobody's gonna miss him anyhow," said his father. "We'll just bury him." They placed Christian's body in a 2ft deep grave across the street, with a Bible on his chest, and lime to speed up decay. Christian's older sister reported his death two years later, when the father left them.

"Did I fail him? Yes, I failed him," said Christian's father at sentencing, but then added, "I think I'm the only one who loved him."


Posted by Manya on March 10th, 2017
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April 3rd:
Alyssa Morgan
died on April 3rd, 2015

12yo Allyssa from Iowa, USA, killed herself because she was bullied in school for being bisexual. "When you have other people telling you that you're not worthy of anything, or that being bisexual is wrong or somehow disgusting... They're going to take that into thought - that maybe I wasn't right for this world," said her mom. Alyssa left a note saying, "I'm sorry… for everything… I just can't anymore… I love you ALL Goodbye."


Posted by Manya on March 7th, 2016
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Harry Lew
died on April 3rd, 2011

Lance Cpl. Harry Lew was hazed by his fellow Marines, and found dead on April 3. The world wouldn't have known how Lew died, had not one other soldier came forward to tell the truth. His parents were informed by the USMC that Harry was killed on the battlefield, 'supporting combat operations' "I feel very proud of my son," his father said. "But I also feel very, very sad. Nothing can compare to the loss of my only son." One of Lew's passions was tricking, which is a combination of break dancing, acrobatics and martial arts. He helped coach a youth group called "That Breaking Club." The members remember him as someone who brought them close together with his sunny personality and impressive mid-air flips.


Posted by Jane on June 16th, 2018
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April 4th:
McKinley Wilder
died on April 4th, 2012

2yo McKinley from California, USA, died of alcohol poisoning and malnutrition. Her mom and dad were going through a hard divorce. Mom felt dad was manipulative and enjoying the battles, dad felt mom was "a cold-blooded narcissist," and the kids (McKinley had an older sister) were caught in the middle of it. The mother was warned by CPS about her alcohol consumption and was required to stay sober while children were in her custody. Instead, she was binge-drinking and giving alcohol to them too. She was sentenced to ten years as per her plea agreement, to spare the surviving child the trauma of having to testify against her.


Posted by Manya on July 5th, 2016
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mikee
died on April 4th, 2011

mikee mi so soree you feleds ths wer tha onlee waa owt mi wesh mi kolda helpeds you mi wesh you wolda gwabeds hols of mi han oen moer tiem mi wil nevr evr forges you you wer mi angel forevr you wil be mi angel


Posted by kami on April 9th, 2011
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April 5th:
Afroza Chowdhury
died on April 5th, 2015

60yo Afroza Chowdhury from California, USA, had a fight with her husband. He threatened to kill her, and she responded she'd rather kill herself than be killed by him. He called 911 and reported her for threatening suicide. The police officers who arrived on scene couldn't understand Mrs Chowdhury's accent and spoke with her adult son over the phone. In the end the husband was arrested for making threats (while on probation for a previous offense), and Mrs Chowdhury was taken to a psychiatric hospital for evaluation. A few hours later the husband was released. Mrs Chowdhury was also released and put on a taxi. When she discovered she was being taken back to her husband, she committed suicide by jumping out of the car (traveling at 60mph on a highway).

"It seems wrong for them to send her to the exact same environment which led her to make suicidal statements and that was just an unhealthy, unsafe environment for her," public defender said. "But if they don't think she's suicidal, she gets to make that decision for herself." However, both California law and the hospital's policy require that staff make reasonable attempts to notify next of kin before releasing a mental health patient. "I have a sister who lives back in Bangladesh," said her son, "and obviously they're asking me, ‘What kind of hospital releases a 60-year-old woman in the middle of the night?' If I knew she was at the hospital - 100 percent - me and my wife would have come and picked her up." His attorney added, "I think his biggest concern is not compensation, but a change in the system so this doesn't happen to someone else's mom, sister, wife."


Posted by Manya on March 11th, 2017
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