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Violent Loss Resources Newsletter, June 1, 2016
News you can use … collected for you in May. (Scroll down to see all)

Contents will vary somewhat month to month, as we close out this month, our contents include:MeMe

Topic of the Month:  The Homicide Investigation

Question of the Month: What tips and lessons would you like to pass on to others?

Resource of the Month: Black’s Online Law Dictionary

Inspiration: Some things have to be carried …

Book Resource: R.I.P Memorial Wall

Add your Voice and Tips


Topic of the Month: The Homicide Investigation

Excerpt: Murder Survivor’s Handbook,  Chapter Five:

webMurder_Survivor-front-cover-sticker-2500webIn the United State of America, one person is murdered every 35.6 minutes. (FBI, 2010)

Your life has been thrown into a well-developed system, a paramilitary system: the criminal justice system. More than likely you have had little experience with this system, and no matter how many movies or TV shows you have watched, you probably know little of how the system actually works.

Richard Wissemann, Supervising Investigator for the San Diego District Attorney’s office, says, “The real problem is that most people believe CSI is truly real, including the families and, unfortunately, the Jury. DNA cannot be identified in half an hour. [TV watching] can hurt as much as help your case.”

It’s important for you to remember that law enforcement’s primary duty is to the deceased, not to the survivors. In their effort to protect the integrity of the case, law enforcement will share little or no information with you. Respectfulness by all sides will go a long way in helping here.

I was surprised to learn that I knew nothing about the legal system. (Kaila)

 The problem for survivors is that they want answers to their questions, but the investigators won’t provide those answers if it is premature.

Tips for Dealing with Law Enforcement

  • Develop a good relationship with your investigator. You are on the same side. Their style and what they must do may result in only a good but not great working relationship.
  • Many people wonder why police don’t question the suspect first. Here is an example, from Michael Corwin’s Homicide Special (2004), on the way detectives may proceed to question the list of people who have knowledge of their murder victim:

 They decide to approach the case . . . in concentric circles, interviewing peripheral players first, then gradually moving inward . . . and finally to potential suspects. . . .  Interviewing the suspects (first) would be useless, as the police have no witnesses, no concrete evidence, and no leverage.

 The beginning of a criminal-death investigation has as many variations as each murder has. One variation is shown in a movie made in India called No One Killed Jessica (2011). This movie reveals how a rich kid, in spite of many eye witnesses, got away with murder. Only after a journalist rallied public support did the legal system eventually take action, many years later, and get a conviction.

Question of the Month

What tips and lessons would you like to pass on to others about the Homicide Investigation?

Keep an open mind. Acknowledge that when a family member is involved, you cannot be objective.

I don’t have any tips or lessons. This phase of the process did not last long enough. But don’t imagine that a quick arrest means automatic success down the road.

Stay as calm and respectful as possible.
If you rant and rave, the police will shut you out and not keep you informed. Remember that you want their concentration to be on finding the killers and not on dealing with hysterical family members

 Take notes all along the way and document details about your contacts and the process.

 Read more in Chapter Five of Murder Survivor’s Handbook.

Resource of the Month

Black’s Law Dictionary: Free Online Legal Dictionary

Black’s Law Dictionary, the trusted legal dictionary of law definitions and terms for over 100 years. The 2nd edition has over 15K legal terms for your business and research use.

Not All Homicides Are Murder

In Chapter Five of  Murder Survivor’s Handbook there is a section called: Not all homicides are are murder. Many of  you question the charge that is being pursued in your case.  The book lists several different categories of homicide, manslaughter, and murder, with a description of each.

There are many terms that you will hear in the beginning of the investigation that will both confuse and baffle.  I was told about Black’s Free Law Dictionary from someone who works in the attorney general’s office in Florida when we exchanged ideas at a conference.  Many survivors and advocates  do not understand many words they are introduced to. I  have used this resource myself for this book.

If you are like me, you may want to read the definitions more than once. The amount of stress you are under will challenge comprehension. Check with your key contacts regarding their use or understanding of these terms, especially as it fits your situation.

We are not expected to have a criminal law degree, so I hope this resource will help you. We have words for different areas of our lives at  home, work, and pleasure for deeper specificity. I have words that fit inside my world of cooking, photography, and psychology. Criminal law has its own words as well.

What legal terms baffled you? Add your Voice and Tips

Inspiration by Tim Laurence, Journalist and Psychotherapist

My mentor, Megan Devine, has so beautifully said: “Some things in life cannot be fixed. They can only be carried.”

Grief is brutally painful. Grief does not only occur when someone dies. When relationships fall apart, you grieve. When opportunities are shattered, you grieve. When illnesses wreck you, you grieve.

Losing a child cannot be fixed. Being diagnosed with a debilitating illness cannot be fixed. Facing the betrayal of your closest confidante cannot be fixed. These things can only be carried.

Book Resources

R.I.P Memorial Wall Art by Joseph wall art webSciorra & Martha Cooper.

In the city of New York, families rarely get to visit the grave site of their loved ones, as the cemeteries are outside the city.  In response to this difficulty, Memorial Art honoring loved ones are placed on walls near where family and friends can gather for remembrance activities.  This is a photo book of this important art.

 Add your Voice and Tips

What you missed last month:         

Resource of the Month: VACC: Victim Assistance Coordinating Council
Topic of the Month:
The Early Response
Question of the Month:
How did you find out about your loved one(s) death?              Tips?
Meet the MSH Team Eleven-Plus
Book Resources: All the Wrong Places: A life lost and found by Philip Connors, author of Fire Season

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Violent Loss Resources Team — Contact us

Connie Saindon:
Larry Edwards:




Survivors of Violent Loss exists to build a lifeline of hope and healing by providing support and education to those who live and work with violent death. Coping isn't easy. Survivors of Violent Loss can help. (619) 685-0005