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The Aftermath of Murder

How does a town — let alone a family — go on after a loved one is killed?

We read the headlines of the sad, grisly killing. We watch the video of a reporter standing outside a courtroom where the accused is being arraigned. We can’t bear to listen to the details, but neither can we look away.

“Oh, that’s so sad and awful,” we shudder. Then we go back to browsing the web or making dinner or whatever pleasantness is happening in our own lives.

We look away.

But what if we didn’t look away? What if we had to face the truth because it happened to a family member? What if we chose to stay engaged and aware because we wanted to support the victim’s family and help make sure justice was served?

There are families and towns that have walked this path, even in unimaginable situations. When three out of the four members of Petit family were brutally slain in a , it was incomprehensible to see how the lone surviving family member, father and husband Dr. William Petit, could recover.

Yet perhaps through finding some sort of justice through the legal system after the killers were arrested and convicted, and by creating a foundation in memory of his wife and daughters who had been killed, Petit was able to find strength to continue moving forward, one step at a time. To find sweetness in life again is possible, as evidenced by .

Justice, answers, closure…these intangible things are often the talisman for those mourning a loss at the hands of another. For the Moxley family of Greenwich, it took 27 years to be given justice. On the day Michael Skakel was convicted for murdering their daughter Martha a quarter of a century earlier, her mother Dorthy called the event “Martha’s Day.”

Even still, such victory is bittersweet. Martha’s brother, John was quoted in the Greenwich Post saying, "’This is hollow,’ Moxley said. ‘Victory doesn't go with this. It doesn't bring Martha back.’"

The Moxley family has been a supportive resource for another family who now faces the killing of a child without arrest or conviction of the suspect. On June 13, 2008–four years ago this week–Wilton’s Parisot family lost their 13-year-old son, Nicholas, when he struck a rope placed across a trail where he was riding his motorbike. Wilton Police believe the rope was placed there purposefully, and they even have a suspect, but they’ve been unable to secure a warrant to make any arrest.

It’s a complicated case because there are other juveniles involved, purportedly as witnesses, and distressingly, as suspects. Indeed, while Nick’s parents—Kathy Throckmorton and Rick Parisot—hope a criminal case will eventually proceed with an arrest and conviction, they have also against a former Wilton family, Glenn and Barbara Knight and their son (who was 12 at the time of the killing), who were all named in the suit.

I live in Wilton, and I’ve watched the case as an opinion columnist, as a Wilton resident, and as a mother. :  I’ve pictured my own son, whose shaggy blond hair and spirited nature reminds me of everything I’ve ever heard of Nick; I have trouble understanding how people with information that could lead to an arrest refuse to come forward to speak with police; and I’ve heard people say, “Let it go already.”

Yes, it’s sensitive because almost all of the witnesses or potential defendants are said to be juveniles. But there’s something to be said for teaching children to stand up and do the right thing by telling the truth of what happened.

I want to live in a town where the priority is on solving the homicide of a child. says he and his entire department are committed to solving the case and promises the investigation will not end until justice is served and he is able to give the Parisots closure.

Nick’s family is close-knit and private. But as their pain has been experienced so publicly, they’ve received support from people they don’t even know. I’ve been involved in a group called Stand Up For Nick, an ad-hoc group that aims to keep the homicide at the forefront of cases in front of police and the States Attorney. As more and more supporters visit our group’s website and ‘like’ our Facebook page, the more the Parisot family feels hopeful that they will find the truth of what happened to Nick that sad day.

It’s just one way a town can grieve and begin to comprehend the incomprehensible. So too is it a way to offer a hand to those grieving an unfathomable loss.

There will always be a family in such need; there will always be a town in search of answers. Just as Greenwich, Cheshire and Wilton have done before, now North Branford will need to figure out how they will move forward after the on June 9 that left a woman and her boyfriend dead, a third , and a family and community reeling from the aftermath.

"My mom moved here from New Haven when we were little to get away from this stuff," Chris Baiocchi told , who grew up on the street where the violence happened. "She wanted to move us somewhere safe and to have a homicide happen on your street is uncomfortable, it really doesn’t make you feel secure." 

No one is immune from pain, but hopefully there is support, community and patience to see you through it.

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