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Say My Loved One’s Name (or “How Do I Keep My Loved One in the Public Eye?”)

October 5, 2017 - Michelle Metje

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One of the worst feelings you can experience is caused by the idea everyone (or most people) don’t even remember your loved one existed… yet alone has been murdered. The cause for this seems complicated, but in reality is very simple to understand.

Many friends shy away from saying your child’s, spouse’s, brother’s, etc. name because they are afraid they are pouring salt in an open wound. What they don’t understand is: mentioning your loved one doesn’t hurt, but seeming to ignore their existence does. As a parent of a murdered child, I can’t tell you how many times people have shied away from me because I continue to say Corey’s name.  As a matter of fact, I put my son’s name in the title of our 501(c)3 to FORCE people to talk about him.

Additionally with the sheer number of homicides in the USA, it causes the media to move from one story to the next in such a quick fashion; you may notice that even the PRESS doesn’t mention the victim’s name.

Lastly, and to me this is the most important point, in this day and age of homicides becoming a common occurrence, detectives do not have the time or resources to devote to any one investigation.

I remember receiving a phone call about 2 weeks after Corey was murdered.  The caller (a parent of a murdered child herself) told me that if I wanted Corey’s case to be solved, it would be my responsibility to make it happen.

I received this news in the spirit in which it was intended. I had always been my child’s best advocate, and this would not change because he died. I’ve often said this; I didn’t promise to be his mom until the day he died. I promised to be his mom till the day I died.  This has not changed.

So with all things considered (your family, the press, police investigations, and your own responsibility to your loved one) you only have control over one aspect… yourself.

This seems like a very daunting statement. I understand that.  However, you came into this world by yourself, and you’ve made it this far. You can do anything you put your mind to.

For example, are you aware that every major city in the USA has a Crime Stoppers Hotline? This particular program offers rewards for unsolved homicides (in Kansas City, it is an automatic $2,000). As a family, you have the right to raise the reward. Though this may sound hard, it really is quite easy.  Every time a donation is made on behalf of your loved one’s homicide case, Crime Stoppers sends out a press release.  They will also take as little as a $500 donation toward the reward to make this announcement.

What people don’t understand is it is not the reward that solves the crime, but the publicity. So let’s say your family has $5,000 raised for the reward. Rather than making one donation for $5,000 and receiving one press release, consider making 10 donations of $500 to receive 10 press releases! If you make a donation every month to 2 months, this is enough to get you a year’s worth of coverage rather than just one 5 minute blurb for $5,000!! Work smart, not hard!!

Start a blog, a Facebook page, Twitter, or Instagram dedicated to solving your loved one’s murder.  These are all free ways to advertise and reach a large market of people that may be able to help you in your quest. Make sure you write on a regular basis… once a week, every month on the day they died, or on holidays.  The important thing here is that you are constantly reminding the public that your loved one’s murder remains unsolved.

When writing in this fashion, include pictures (appropriate… please no violent, drug, or alcohol themed pictures. This subconsciously makes the public think the worst of them). Talk about their likes, dislikes, humor, and other personality traits you loved in them.  Always make these positive. ALWAYS remember that either the person who killed your loved one or a witness is probably reading your posts. You are trying to make them understand “the victim” has a name… was a person… and is loved.

Don’t talk negatively about the police or the investigation!! That only serves to make the killer feel comfortable that the case will remain unsolved. Remember, you are a united front with the people working on your loved one’s case. Argue all you want behind closed doors, but don’t put that out in the public. Not to mention, they may be working on your loved one’s case right now, and you don’t know. They can’t tell you because it might hurt the case, or they are busy trying to solve it.

Create a “Reward” poster/flyer.  This should have just enough information to help people remember who your loved one was, but not so much that it hurts the investigation. From time to time, post that on your social media outlets. Facebook has an option of “boosting” such posts.  For very little money ($5) you can send that wanted poster to many more people than what is on your friend’s list.  I once shared Corey’s for $10, and over 30,000 people saw it within the next 3 days. If you need help, contact us and I will help you create one!!

When there are opportunities to speak with the press, do so.  I know we have all been taught to keep our problems to ourselves.  However, in this case you MUST make an exception! In our area, 103.3FM is known for hosting homicide victim’s families talk about their loved one’s case.  Take advantage of this!!

If there is an anniversary surrounding your loved one (i.e. birthday, anniversary date of the crime, when they should have graduated high school, etc.) you can send out a press release to all of the newspapers in the area, and someone will more than likely pick up the story.  Corey’s Network has a great media list, if you need to have this sent by our team, just contact us!

Show up for vigils, memorial ceremonies, community events against violence, or any other event that is offered to you. Let the people know what you are going through. This is a way to build a network of people that understand your situation.

Lastly, if you want to hear your loved one’s name, SAY it. Bring them up in conversations (as appropriate). I love talking to my nieces about the day Corey and they were trying to open a bottle of wine without a corkscrew! Hand out your fliers. Wear your t-shirts with their name on it. Find friends that will also say their name… over and over and over.

COREY WAS HERE, AND HE MATTERED!!! I gave Corey his name. I’m not letting anyone steal it from me.

Now you say it… only with your loved one’s name. Don’t let the murderer steal your loved one’s name from you!

They’ve already taken enough.

Michelle Metje

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