As Homicides Continue to Rise in D.C., Parents of Gun Violence Victims Reflect on Their Open Wounds

Their children died years ago, and they know what’s in store for families of the recent victims.

January 17, 2019

Are you still a mother if your child passes away? What if you lose a child and just so happen to be engaged in a casual conversation with a stranger who offhandedly asks, “So, how many children do you have?” How do you answer that? In the wake of a homicide, maintaining your composure while facing questions like these could be the hardest part of your existence.  

The year 2018 ended with 160 homicides on the books in D.C.—a 38 percent increase from the previous year. In the first 15 days of 2019, 12 more have died by homicide. 

Parents of past victims—those who lost their children before this recent spike—know something about what’s in store for grieving families. 

The victimization does not end at the scene of the crime or by capturing the perpetrator. City Paper interviewed three D.C. parents who lost their children to bullets in years past. The lack of respect from homicide detectives, the shortage of therapists and grief counselors, the discouragement of unsolved cases, have made these parents victims in a secondary manner. The promises of legislation like D.C.’s 2016 NEAR Act, a progressive omnibus policing bill that focuses on accountability and treating violent crime as a public health concern, are bright. But the provisions of the act have been slow to materialize, and bereavement is not included in D.C.’s paid family leave law. 

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HOKIE BUILT: For a Better Tomorrow

Spring 2018

Builders breathe life into a blueprint. They are diversely skilled individuals, unified in purpose, who move a vision from idea to plan, then construct its reality.

Virginia Tech’s bold plan to be a force for positive change throughout the world builds on the university’s time-honored tradition of service and its living motto, Ut Prosim, (That I May Serve). It’s a blueprint contingent on people—builders committed to bringing their unique expertise to the table, expanding their focus to all fields, and jointly answering the call to serve.

Virginia Tech is renowned for its roll-up-your-sleeves brand of hard work, resilient commitment, and can-do attitude. True to the blue-collar heritage of Southwest Virginia, these distinguishing characteristics set Hokies apart. For Virginia Tech football players, this distinctive brand of moxie is uniquely symbolized by the famed lunch pail, reminding all Hokies—from the research lab or the boardroom to the athletic field—to focus on the WIN (what’s important now.)

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This Life: Her child died, and now she heads a club that no one wants to join

December 5, 2017

It’s not what she set out to do, but Joyal Mulheron has become a collector of the worst kinds of stories. The ones no one wants to hear.

About the mom who was lying in bed when her 20-year-old son was shot just down the block. About the dad whose teenage daughter collapsed and died from unknown causes in the front hall of their home. About the single mother whose 7-week-old baby stopped breathing at his day-care center and was dead by the time she arrived.

Joyal knows that people turn away from these stories, that the suffering is too much to comprehend. She might have turned away, too — if she hadn’t lived it herself.

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From rape victim to grieving mom to 21st century Harriet Tubman

June 14, 2017

Susan Burton was sexually abused from the time she was 4 and became pregnant from a gang rape at age 14. But it was the loss of her five-year-old son — after he was hit by a police car —  that sent her cycling through decades of addiction and incarceration.

"Nothing good could ever have come of my life if I hadn’t been able to get therapy and overcome my addictions," says Burton.

Burton discussed her new book, Becoming Ms. Burton: From Prison to Recovery to Leading the Fight for Incarcerated Women in a Facebook Live Wednesday.

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Five years after her third child, Eleanora, died at five months old of a congenital abnormality, Joyal Mulheron still goes to occasional therapy to process the grief and has trouble speaking publicly about her loss.

The former health policy adviser to the National Governors Association felt her loss so profoundly that she quit her job two years ago as chief strategy officer for the Partnership for a Healthier America, the private offshoot of first lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" campaign. She launched a non profit to help other families grappling with the loss of a child at any age and to push for policies, like paid leave for people who lose children, that recognize the grief they are dealing with.

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Huge racial disparities persist despite slow infant mortality drop

March 7, 2016

FALLS CHURCH, Va. — Despite a 13% drop in the national infant mortality rate over nearly a decade, there remains a stubborn gap between the rates for black Americans and other racial groups as well as between some Southern states and the rest of the country.

The most proven and promising way to reduce the disparities in premature births that lead to death — home visits by nurses — got a boost in theAffordable Care Act, but is reaching only a fraction of those in need, policy experts say.

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