Life After Death: How Murder Affects A Family

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This project documents the affect of a murder on a family.

In August 2007, my sister Laura was murdered by her ex-husband in the home they shared with their two young sons. In an instant, her sons, ages two and four, became practical orphans, with one dead parent and another in police custody. The boys were shuttled through foster care at a time when they were fragile and confused, until Social Services could determine, with the approval of their only surviving parent, their father, where to place them on a more permanent basis. The situation required our family to fight the state of Colorado for five weeks until they were finally released to my parents in Seattle, Washington. Their father plead guilty to second degree murder and is currently serving a 25 year sentence in a maximum security prison.

This documentary project began organically; a simple documentation of my nephews lives upon their arrival in Seattle. I now recognize that it also became a way for me to escape the grief that consumed me and crippled my creative work. Another layer of tragedy comes with my mother’s diagnosis of ALS disease, and the future of her ability to provide a safe and stable long-term environment.

As the years pass, I continue to document our family. The dynamic shifts, unfolds and ushers in revelations, celebrations, sadness and fear. My youngest and only living sister has moved within walking distance of our parents and shares the responsibility of raising Laura’s boys.

I see my nephews as often as I can, and I am amazed at their resilience. They are strong, loving boys with deep connections to those around them. But every once in a while I see one of them staring off in deep thought and I wonder what they’re thinking. Or if they’re remembering her.