10/8/2014 3:59:27 PM
By Barney Blakeney
Sept. 25 the local Survivors of Homicide Support Group Services commemorated the 8th annual National Day of Remembrance for Murdered Victims in a ceremony at the Lonnie Hamilton Public Service Building in North Charleston. The group is a collaborative program of the Charleston County Sheriff Office and the Medical University of South Carolina Crime Victim Center and has over 100 members. Among them is survivor Tyese Miller.
The nationwide event is held to honor the memories of homicide victims including traffic related homicides and to recognize the impact on surviving family members and loved ones. Last year alone some 17,000 persons were homicide victims. South Carolina has the nation’s fifth highest average for homicides. There were 32 homicides in Charleston County last year.
Their survivors include untold numbers of mothers, fathers, children, brothers, sisters, friends, co-workers and neighbors whose lives are forever altered by the tragedy and horror of the sudden loss. They each have a story to tell.
Tyese Miller lost her 19-year-old son, Billy Demarcrius ‘Skippy’ Jackson, to homicide as a result of a 1998 robbery attempt. Miller, who is a volunteer chaplain at the Charleston County Juvenile Detention Center, said she received the call no parent wants after spending an evening ministering to juveniles at the center on Headquarters Road in North Charleston.
That morning was a typical one. Miller who had two sons and a daughter, hugged Skippy who was mentally challenged before leaving home to accompany a family during a court session. That evening she went to the detention center where she conducts a weekly Bible study group. She didn’t expect to see Skippy until later when he got home from his evening job.
Miller next saw her son on a stretcher after he had been shot with a shotgun three times. Two younger teens, as part of retaliation for an earlier argument with one of them, had tried to rob Skippy. One of the perpetrators was a childhood friend who had spent nights in the Miller family home with Skippy. Miller continues to minister to juveniles at the detention center. She said she decided to give Satan a black eye.
For Miller her faith helps her get through the tragedy of her loss, but the survivors group offers other assistance.
After the initial shock survivors often struggle to pick up the pieces. Through the survivors group program members can receive psychotherapy and counseling treatment which provides support and coping skills that can assist in making adjustments in the aftermath of homicide. Survivors are urged to seek help when grief reactions are unbearable or get in the way of being able to live their lives.
Survivors also may seek financial assistance. The S.C. Crime Victims Compensation Fund offers compensation to crime victims that have suffered some loss as a result of that crime. Homicide survivors may be eligible to receive benefits to cover their loved one’s medical expenses, their loss of earnings, counselling expenses and/or funeral expenses if those expenses are not covered by other sources.
For information about the Survivors of Homicide Support Group Services contact Alyssa Rheingold at (843)792-8209 or Easter LaRoche at (843) 745-2250.