GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - Their stories are ones of grief, grief most parents -- mostpeople -- could never imagine.
Six families are making pleas for help in solving the unsolvedmurders of their relatives in a public service announcementcampaign revealed Thursday by Silent Observer.
Columbus and Vera Stewart's grief goes back more than 10 years.Their daughter, Sherry Stewart Brown, then 33, was reported missingin July 1996. Her family last saw her at an apartment building nearCollege Avenue and I-196 in Grand Rapids.
In 1998, her skeletal remains were found along ButterworthStreet in Walker. Going public with their grief -- their story --was not easy.
"We know it was hard," Columbus Stewart told 24 Hour News 8. "Itwas like pouring salt in an open wound but we did it."
They shared it like the others in the hopes that it will triggersomeone's memory, maybe their conscience. Vera Stewart said sheknows her daughter might have gotten mixed up with the wrong crowd,but she said no one deserves Sherry's fate: her body was foundnaked, dumped in a Walker ravine.
"That's inhumane and that's what I want justice for," VeraStewart said.
Pamela Webster made the same difficult decision to come forward.Her brother, Willie Benson, was 19 when he was murdered July 30,2005 near Dickinson Street and Godwin Avenue SE.
"It'll never bring back my brother, change my heart, because Ihurt for him on a daily basis," Webster said. But she is certainsomeone is out there with information. So Webster is making thesame public plea Michelle DeMaagd has made many times before.DeMaagd's sister, Renee Pagel, was found murdered in her CourtlandTownship home on 13 Mile Road on a warm summer night: August 5,2006.
"I'm hoping that maybe someone saw someone in, around the houseat that time or going down the road at that time," DeMaagd said."Anything anybody would have heard or overheard."
Carolyn Priester is among those featured in the public serviceannouncement campaign. In just less a month, she will mark a mostunwelcome anniversary. Her son Lee Priester was murdered July 28,2007 in the 1000 block of Lafayette Avenue SE.
"I don't mind telling you it gets harder each time," CarolynPriester said. "The closer we get, the harder it gets because I'mhaving to revisit that scene over and over and over again. I don'tlike it and I think what's more disturbing is the fact that someoneknows who did it and they're not saying anything."
She is hoping that by speaking publicly, she will prompt someoneto say something. It's the same motivation that brought FrancesMolson forward. On May 31, 2008, her son, Richard Dana, wasmurdered in the 400 block of Adams Street SE near Madison Avenue.He was 19.
"He went to a party on Adams and he got shot in the backyard,"Molson said. "As long as I can keep my face out in the public on TVtalking to people, they'll know I'm still looking."
Just 10 days before Molson lost her son, Patricia McElwee losthers. Chad McElwee was found murdered near Sycamore and Cass on May21, 2008. It was an area where he didn't normally spend time, hismother said.
It's been more than year now.
Patricia McElwee says thinking about the good times and laughingcan get her through the days. But on some days, it's notenough.
"We laughed, talked. We tell each other we love each other. Idon't get that anymore," she said. "It's gone, you know, those arethe things I miss in life and I'll never get them back. I'll neverget them back."
Like five other Grand Rapids-area families, Patricia McElwee'shope is to find the somebody who knows the something that willsolve the case.
The PSAs were produced by David Schock, best known for hisdocumentary work on the Janet Chandler cold case.
Anyone with information about the cases is asked to call SilentObserver at 616-774-2345.
Police are looking for the suspect in an armed robbery that occurred at a gas station in Plainwell Thursday night.
The rink will be open that day from 3-9 p.m.
Bethany Murk, 48, was arrested Thursday following a drug bust in Van Buren County.