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Column

The silent witnesses of domestic violence

The Silent Witness program is an effective, stark reminder of the deadly consequences of domestic violence. Kudos to Freedom House for remembering 15 local and area victims whose lives were tragically cut short.

Shown are some of the 15 Silent Witness silhouettes that will be displayed at Soldiers and Sailors Park in Princeton until Friday, Oct. 12. The silhouettes, sponsored by Freedom House, memorialize local and area women and children who died as a result of domestic violence or sexual assault.
Shown are some of the 15 Silent Witness silhouettes that will be displayed at Soldiers and Sailors Park in Princeton until Friday, Oct. 12. The silhouettes, sponsored by Freedom House, memorialize local and area women and children who died as a result of domestic violence or sexual assault.

If you’ve driven past Soldiers and Sailors Park in Princeton in recent days, you likely noticed the 15 life-sized silhouettes, painted blood-red, in the park’s northwest corner.

They represent 15 women and children who lost their lives to domestic violence since the 1970s in the five-county area that Princeton-based Freedom House serves.

The silhouettes come with plaques that tell how the lives of these women and children ended violently. The killers were husbands, ex-husbands, partners, relatives, acquaintances or strangers.

“These silent witnesses tell a story, and their stories need to be shared and heard, or else they’ll be forgotten,” Amber Killian of Freedom House said.

The names of the 15 silent witnesses are:

• Tracie Lynn Sapp, 14, of Wyanet, who was killed in 1974.

• Christy Doyle, 15, of Princeton, who was killed in 1990.

• Justin Adams, 9 months old, of Spring Valley, who was killed in 1993.

• Francee L. Wolf, 22, of Spring Valley, who was killed in 1994.

• Melissa Rice, 42, of Henry, who was killed in 2013.

• Kyle Michael Donald Smith, 3, of Bradford, who was killed in 1998.

• Kate Judd, 70, of Magnolia, who was killed in 1977.

• Sandra Jones, 33, of Lacon, who was killed in 1984.

• Nola Wilson, age unknown, of Stark County, who was killed in 1978.

• Paula Rokis, 31, of Geneseo, who was killed in 1996.

• Jean Marie Humble, 15, of Aledo, who was killed in 1996.

• Matthew Mote, 3, of Green Rock, who was killed in 1994.

• Donna K. Cochran, 44, of Marshall County, who was killed in 1997.

• Victoria Joelle Larson, 10, of Andover, who was killed in 1979.

• James Michael Bishop, 4 months old, of Castleton, who was killed in 1997.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Freedom House, a shelter for victims of domestic violence, sponsored the display as a reminder of this terrible scourge.

The display will end on Friday. Afterward, the silhouettes will be packed up and moved to the Henry County Courthouse in Cambridge and displayed there for a week.

While the display is still in Princeton, we urge people to take a few moments to stop by Soldiers and Sailors Park, visit the silhouettes, read the plaques, and listen to what they say.

The stories told by these Silent Witnesses are powerful. They must not be forgotten.

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