‘Remember My Story. Remember My Name.’

CHEYENNE – Safehouse Services hosted a melancholic event Friday afternoon at the Blue Community Center as families, friends and neighbors gathered to honor the lives of women, men and children lost to the terrors of domestic violence.

The event began with a welcome statement by Safehouse Services President Bob Budd and Cheyenne Police Department Captain David Janes, a ceremonial Presentation of the Colors, a performance of the National Anthem by Derede Darden and a march of escorted silhouettes.

The silhouettes represent those who have died from domestic violence. 

“Our agency works diligently to provide services including shelter to all victims of domestic abuse,” Budd said. “We would like to thank you for being here today to remember and honor our family members and friends who have lost their lives to domestic violence.”

The 2022 Silent Witness Initiative book was handed out at the event to provide attendees with information on the inception of the witness and its progress to date.

“On February 28, 1997, Wyoming unveiled an exhibit as the first phase of the Silent Witness Initiative at a special ceremony in the State Capitol,” the 2022 Silent Witness Initiative book reads. “The exhibit consisted of 38 red life-size wood silhouettes representing the women and children murdered as a result of domestic violence. Brandy Jo Imhoff’s small silhouette speaks for children murdered in domestic violence situations. Each adult silhouette bears a shield with the name of the murdered woman, age at time of death, and the circumstances of her death. To represent the associated victims, a male silhouette and an additional child silhouette were added to the exhibit in 2001.”

Following the march, Shirley Martinez and Vicki Powell presented the history of the Silent Witness Initiative. Ty Warner, a Cheyenne musician performed a song he wrote pertaining to domestic violence after the untimely death of his vocalist, Robin Munis, who was the victim of a fatal gunshot wound. Her husband was the shooter.

“I wrote a song called ‘Blink of an Eye’ for the loss of my vocalist, Robin Munis,” Warner explained. “Because of what happened to me, I became peripherally involved in the awareness and prevention of domestic violence and I can’t be more proud to be able to do that for our community and for our globe. So, we are going to release ‘Blink of an Eye,’ is the name of the cut, we recorded this one here in Cheyenne, Wyoming, actually, we are going to release this on Oct. 31 and all the proceeds will go to the Safehouse Services organization to maximize the profits.”

Guest speaker Kathy Davison spoke on living with a child lost to domestic violence. 

“Thank God, the word’s getting out and people are understanding what domestic violence does,” a teary-eyed Davison said. “First off, domestic violence is very real, and it is present in all of our communities. I know this after many years of being involved in the domestic violence programs, local and state-wide.”

Davison’s daughter, Kelly Jean Davison, died Oct. 6, 2009 at the age of 33 while pregnant with her second child. 

“Thirteen years ago, yesterday, this touched our lives and we’ll never be the same,” Davison said as she choked out the words between sniffles and sobs. “Some of you know our story. Our youngest daughter was killed by her husband. She was eight-weeks pregnant and 33 years old…it can hit me when I’m not even thinking about anything. After thirteen years, it’s not a lot easier. It just never goes away.”

Lindi Kirkbride read a poem, “When Tomorrow Starts Without Me,” by Crista Bernal. Following her presentation, Wyoming Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Executive Director Kristen Schwartz and Wyoming Victim Services Director Cara Chambers presented the induction and retirement ceremony for new and past silhouettes. 

Two of the three 2022 inductees were Goshen County residents who lost their lives to domestic violence, Kimberly Ann Apple and Madison Shana Cook.

At 48 years old, Apple died on May 17, 2021. Kim’s son, Cody Johnson, wrote the following:

“The night of May 16, 2021 into the morning of the 17th, Marty Colwell stole the life of Kimberly Ann Apple. Kim was 48 years old when she was taken away so aggressively from her three kids.

“On the day of the 17th, Kim’s body was found stripped down in the house they briefly shared outside of Torrington. She passed away from internal and external bleeding caused by Colwell. One major injury she suffered from was a large gash on her head. Colwell attempted to glue shut the wound rather than call for help.

“The family is not only left with extreme despair but also many questions that will never be answered due to the fact ‘he can’t remember.’

“Kim was born in July of 1972, she had many different accomplishments throughout her life from finishing college at EWC to becoming a loving grandma. She had a rough past for a very long time but Kim managed to find comfort in a variety of things. From fishing at the Glendo lake during any free time to bowling or shooting a game of pool. She will be deeply missed by everyone blessed with memories of her.”

At 20 years old, Cook died on April 20, 2021. Madison’s aunt, Lauren Correa, wrote the following:

“Madison, the daughter of Nate and Stacey Cook, was an amazing young woman with the most beautiful blue eyes. From the moment she could walk and talk, she loved all things in nature. She had a vivid imagination and a passion for art, which led her to create many things. She was a family oriented young woman who aspired to be a tattoo artist. She also loved anything her dad loved – like fishing, hunting, horseback riding and mud racing.

“She graduated from Lingle-Fort Laramie High School in 2019 and attended classes at Eastern Wyoming College, but as quickly as her adult life began, it ended. Evil showed up in her life and told her he loved her. She and Sean Pettus had only been in a relationship for three months.

“Three days prior to the discovery of her body, she contacted family for help and moved out. On April 20th 2021, Madison’s body was found under a heap of bedding in Sean’s apartment. She has been stabbed a total of six times with a butcher knife, asphyxiated with plastic around her neck, and showed signs of blunt force trauma to the head

“In memory of Madison the family frequently plants sunflowers, has dedicated a piece of land in her honor near Register Cliff, holds an annual river float on the North Platte River in Guernsey and will continue to promote domestic violence awareness in her honor.”

Two other former Torrington residents were honored during the ceremony, Deedra Strauch and Ashley May Craig.

At 56 years old, Strauch died on Jan. 24, 2020. Her daughters, Becky Sue Strauch and Brandee Guerrero wrote the following:

​“Deedra was born on May 8th, 1963. On Friday January 24th, 2020 in Torrington, Deedra was trying to leave her boyfriend’s house. Deedra had her shoes and coat on, and her bags packed when Terry Anderson held a .22 rifle against her left cheek and shot her.

“Our mom was a beautiful soul. She was full of life and loved riding her motorcycle and loved her dog Raz. Deedra is survived by her two beautiful daughters Becky Sue and Brandee Sue and 5 wonderful grandkids and one grandchild she never met. When Deedra wasn’t working, she would be spending time with family and friends. We will forever mourn her loss but will always keep her in our hearts.”

At 21 years old, Craig died on April 8, 2015. Ashley’s mother, Melissa Haynes, wrote the following:

“Ashley May Craig was born in Torrington May 12, 1993. On April 8, 2015 Ashley and her boyfriend, David Hernandez, 47, argued all day in various locations including a church parking lot. At one point he struck her in the face giving her a bloody nose. That evening parked outside of his father’s house, Hernandez shot 22-year-old Ashley in the head and killed her while she was leaning over to get their 18-month-old son out of the car seat in the back. Her mother believes Ashley had taken her son and was trying to leave the relationship that day.

“Thinking of her daughter, Melissa said, ‘Ashley was good mom. She loved her son. her son came first in her life. She read to him played games and watched Sponge Bob cartoons and movies with him. Ashley loved gardening and animals, especially horses. She enjoyed helping people, especially handicapped kids. She was outgoing, caring, gentle, and so much fun to be with. Ashley is dearly missed every day.’”

Following the induction and retirement ceremony, mayors of Laramie County municipalities read off the “Silhouette Roll Call,” a roll call of all victims lost to domestic violence and submitted to the Silent Witness Initiative. 

Ty Warner and his band performed “This is Not Goodbye,” and Lieutenant Jeff Lambing of the Laramie County Sheriff’s Office provided the closing statements for the ceremony.  

“The mission of the Wyoming Silent Witness Initiative is to promote peace, healing and responsibility in intimate relationships in order to eliminate domestic violence,” the 2022 Silent Witness Initiative book reads. “Because all of us have a responsibility to act to end these senseless deaths, Wyoming joined other states in a national initiative committed to raising the level of awareness about domestic violence.”

The Wyoming Silent Witness Initiative website provides tips on what one can do to help:

• Everyone can speak out against domestic violence. The problem will continue until society stands up with one resounding voice and says, “no more!”

• Members of the public can donate to local, statewide or national anti-domestic violence programs.

• We can teach our children about what healthy relationships look like by example and by talking about it.

• You can call on your public officials to support life-saving domestic violence services and hold perpetrators accountable.

To learn more about the Wyoming Silent Witness Initiative, visit wyomingsilentwitnessinitiative.net. To learn more about Safehouse Services, visit wyomingsafehouse.org. 

To get help locally, call the Goshen County Task Force at 307-532-2118.

© 2023-The Torrington Telegram

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