“We couldn't help it. Wherever we went,we seemed to bring the situation down,” June said.
“I cried for five years,” George Ginty said. “Nobody could take anything anymore. I retired early because I just couldn't make myself work anymore.”
But the Long Island couple,”brought in,kicking and screaming” to their first meeting of Parents of Murdered Children,said they could finally talk about their loss.
The Gintys met with 375 other relatives of homicide victims Saturday for the National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims.
The event at the National Press Club brought together homicide survivors and professionals who work with them to suggest new laws that could help survivors navigate the legal process.
The Maryland Crime Victims' Resource Center co-sponsored the event,and observances took place elsewhere around the country.
Congress first recognized the event four years ago,said Nancy Ruhe,executive director of Parents of Murdered Children. This year marks the first time the Justice Department's Office for Victims of Crime funded the conference and took policy suggestions from the audience.
Among the proposed suggestions were to provide more funding to train officers how to better handle relatives of victims of crime and to have hearings at the federal level to look into the issue of an increased proportion of cold cases. Votes are still to be counted and the selected suggestions will be published soon,Ruhe said.
In the mid-1960s,”the Johnson administration made a national crime commission,which helped make grants for police departments for things like cold cases,and a lot of police chiefs want to see that again,” said Tom Hargrove,a Scripps Howard News Service national correspondent whose data-based reporting has found trends in unsolved murders in the U.S.
“I think the panels are going to make today even more productive,” said Roberta Roper,chairwoman of the Maryland resource center.
Roper founded the Stephanie Roper Committee in honor of her daughter,Stephanie,who was kidnapped and murdered in Prince George's County,Md.,in 1982 while she was home from college.
When the Ropers testified at the trial,they were not allowed to deliver a victim impact statement. They were not notified of several hearings related to the case.
“It's a hard situation when you've been telling your children all this time to respect the system,” she said.
The Stephanie Roper Committee helped enact 75 pieces of victims' rights laws in Maryland,culminating in an amendment to the state constitution. The committee was later restructured and renamed the Maryland Crime Victims Resource Center.
Following the discussions,Parents of Murdered Children held a ceremony to unveil the “Murder Wall … Honoring Their Memories.”
“Too often,the justice system is seen as all about punishing offenders and guaranteeing defendants' rights,” said Mary Lou Leary,principal deputy assistant attorney general of the Office of Justice Programs.
The 32-plaque wall contains the names of murder victims and binders with details about the murders. Each plaque holds 120 names,with dates of birth and death.
Ruhe said the wall adds about two plaques annually and has been traveling since it was created in 1995. The Washington D.C. Metropolitan Honor Guard unveiled each plaque and saluted them.
“I kept saying we have monuments for everything,yet there's nothing for murdered victims,” Ruhe said.
The Gintys' daughter is represented on the wall.
When her boyfriend,Ruperto Jimenez,proposed to her,Kathy Ginty broke up with him,but he stalked her and tried to convince the Gintys to encourage her to return to him,June Ginty said.
When Kathy Ginty came home on July 16,1994,Jimenez was waiting for her. After she denied his “final” plea,he stabbed her more than 20 times with a samurai sword.
Friends who called 911 to report the attack got busy signals or were put on hold.
Since then,the Gintys helped their community adopt a nonemergency helpline to keep the 911 line available for more serious emergencies. Jimenez has served 16 years of his 20-year minimum sentence,and June Ginty said her family is trying to block his parole.
Coordinating such efforts is one function of Parents of Murdered Children.
Ruhe said Sept. 25 was selected as the National Day of Remembrance to honor the work of the group's founders,Robert and Charlotte Hullinger,whose 19-year-old daughter,Lisa,was murdered on that date in 1978 while visiting Germany.
The Gintys said Parents of Murdered Children helped them get on with their lives.
“You can finally put your mind on something else,” George Ginty said. “You go to these things and you're helping other people,and that helps you.”
“When you join this organization,you can sit down and talk normally,” June Ginty said. “You don't have to put on a front and act like everything's fine.”