Lawton Homicide Victim's Survival Group looking for permanent home

Lawton_When Birgit Smith's father's killer was sentenced to life 20 years ago, that's time she thought he would serve.  But he has come up for parole several times so far, the next time will be later this month.  She has to mount yet another attempt to persuade the Parole and Pardon Board to keep him behind bars.

It seems as if many homicide victims never get closure, and Birgit is hoping to generate new interest to a support group she has formed.  Those in the group agree that a support group is vital to the healing process of those whose loved ones are victims of homicide.

Birgit's father was brutally murdered when a ball pin hammer was slammed into his head 13 times by her own step-brother.  He comes up for parole every three years, and she says her letters to and appearances to the parole board have kept him behind bars so far, but it's a fight she says will continue as long has the killer still lives.

In the group, Birgit shares her story of "ups and downs" with others who have shared similar struggles.  "Cases are different, but the anger's the same," she says.  Through her group, she met Gabriel Ramey, who lost her husband a year ago.  He was a cab driver who was shot after giving someone a ride.  That person has since pled guilty, and is serving a life sentence.

Gabriel and Birgit share a common bond.  It's not one they're happy about, but it's the one they have to live with.  The two count on each other for support, and it's the kind of support she hopes to develop with the rest of her group.

The Lawton Homicide Victim's Survival Group has been organized for some years, but Birgit says she's never had an official location for the group to meet.  She's hoping to get the word out about the group's lack of a meeting spot - a 24-hour a day place where a victim's family members can visit and get support though counseling, legal resources, or a shoulder.  If you are interested in helping the non-profit organization, there is an open account at any Fort Sill Federal Credit Union.  Just specify that you would like to donate to the LVHS Group Fund.  For more information , contact Birgit directly at 580-248-1713.