Interview with Donna Hogan

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Transcript 
  •  DONNA HOGAN: So Boston, you get snow. 
  •  LYDIA CRAFTS: Yeah, we get a lot of snow. 
  •  HOGAN: So this is nothing for you. 
  •  CRAFTS: No, although I've been here a couple years now, so- I'm cold. I'm not used to it. 
  •  HOGAN: I'm - mmkay. 
  •  KIMBERLY AMBROSINI-BACON: So here you'll just print your name and then date of birth and location and your signature, and also if I could get you, either on the form or on the back to write your address down, that way we can have your stuff to send. 
  •  DONNA HOGAN: Date of birth. Thirteenth. 
  •  AMBROSINI-BACON: And that's just to distinguish you from all the other Ms. Hogans out there in the world. 
  •  HOGAN: Yeah. 
  •  AMBROSINI-BACON: Make sure we've got the right one. 
  •  HOGAN: I think there's about three in Texas. 
  •  AMBROSINI-BACON: Oh, really? 
  •  HOGAN: You want to put my address here? 
  •  AMBROSINI-BACON: If you could - 
  •  HOGAN: Location of interview? 
  •  AMBROSINI-BACON: Yeah, if you could put your address that would be great. Thank you. 
  •  HOGAN: You want the zip code and everything? 
  •  AMBROSINI-BACON: Yeah, please. 
  •  HOGAN: Okay. 
  •  HOGAN: Okay. There you go, ma'am. 
  •  AMBROSINI-BACON: Thank you very much. 
  •  HOGAN: Did I need to put something at the top? At the top up there? Right where your hand is? 
  •  AMBROSINI-BACON: Oh, yeah, well I guess I'll fill in Lydia's name, cause she's the one who helped me with the - with the project. 
  •  HOGAN: Okay. 
  •  AMBROSINI-BACON: Okay. So we kind of went through the consent process. You do orally consent to the interview. 
  •  HOGAN: Oh. 
  •  AMBROSINI-BACON: You just say, like, yeah, you consent to the interview. 
  •  HOGAN: Oh, okay, yes, I consent to be interviewed today, 12-10-09. 
  •  AMBROSINI-BACON: Okay, and you understand how your interview will be used and kind of the whole process that we talked about. 
  •  HOGAN: Yes, I understand fully. 
  •  AMBROSINI-BACON: So I guess to start, we're here at Ms. Hogan's house in Houston, Texas. Myself Kimberly Bacon is doing the interview and Lydia Crafts is doing the camera work. 
  •  HOGAN: Yes. 
  •  AMBROSINI-BACON: So I guess to get started, if you wouldn't mind telling us a little bit about your background, where you grew up, and that kind of thing? 
  •  HOGAN: Okay. I'm a native Houstonian. I was born and raised right here in Houston. I'm fifty-six years old. I'm the mother of three sons and one daughter. I have eight grandchildren, and I am a - for a living, what I do for a living, I actually work with preschool children, ages three to five in the Head Start program here in Houston. That's it. 
  •  AMBROSINI-BACON: Okay. Could you tell me a little bit about your family and your children? 
  •  DONNA HOGAN: Okay, I have one grown - okay, all of my children are grown. I have one grown daughter Lolita Joiner, she's forty-one; one grown son, Keith Woodard, he's forty; and I have my younger son, is Levar Woodard, he's thirty-two, engaged to be married real soon in July. 
  •  HOGAN: And my youngest son was LeDuke, he would've been about thirty years old right now. It's been five years since his murder. It's been five years.I have an adult granddaughter that's twenty-three years old, just recently moved into her new apartment. She's excited about it. I am, too. 
  •  HOGAN: And I have seven other grandchildren. I have - try to remember - three girls and five boys. They range from ages of twenty-five until about ten years old. Well, no, I got two young grandsons that's three and four - three and four years old. So Tory is four and Christian is three. 
  •  HOGAN: And then I got Alexis is fifteen, and I just - all the way down the row. All the way down. I have Alexis is fifteen, then I have a -And my son LeDuke, he left three sons LeQarius, LeParius , and Tredric. He left three sons. They now teenagers. 
  •  HOGAN: Well, two of 'em are teenagers, one is about ten years old now, the youngest one is about - he was about four then, so he's about nine years old now. And I don't get to see 'em as much as I'd like to, but one of 'em I do see regularly. Most of 'em - whenever we can get together. usually on holidays and some weekends. 
  •  HOGAN: And that's pretty much my family.My daughter works - she is a procurement specialist here in Houston. She orders the fire trucks and police cars for the city of Houston and surrounding areas. My oldest son Keith and LeVar, they both are managers for Sam's Club. And so we all are pretty busy people. 
  •  HOGAN: We do a lot of community work when we're not working. We got a chance to feed the homeless for Thanksgiving, hopefully again for Christmas, and it's so rewarding. We all - church. We attend the Baptist church here in Houston. My youngest son is one of the associate ministers at our church. And that's pretty much all I can think of right now. Maybe later I'll think of something else I can tell you about. 
  •  AMBROSINI-BACON: Okay. 
  •  DONNA HOGAN: I've been working for fifteen years with young children. Very rewarding work. I just got a promotion to the site manager. So I'm excited about it! I have about twenty staff under my leadership. 
  •  HOGAN: Actually I work right around the corner. I wish I could get a chance to show you, but anyway - very rewarding work. And so I've been living here at this address - we've been here for - I've been living at this same address for twenty-five years. 
  •  HOGAN: My son was raised - my kids was raised here - and so now at this point in my life, I'm enjoying life, just being me. Everybody's grown and gone now, so I'm just enjoying life being me. So that's it. 
  •  AMBROSINI-BACON: Okay. Sorry. Excuse me. I know you wanted to show us some photographs. So do you want to start by doing that? Okay. 
  •  DONNA HOGAN: Yes, I'm gonna - I'm gonna show you 
  •  CRAFTS: Bring the camera? Or - 
  •  AMBROSINI-BACON: Yeah. 
  •  CRAFTS: Or bring the photos in here? Okay. 
  •  DONNA HOGAN: You can - I can bring photos in here. I can show you the main photo - whichever. Which one you want me to do? 
  •  CRAFTS: Maybe it'd be better to bring it in. It never, like, looks that good in there. 
  •  DONNA HOGAN: Yeah, okay, let me bring it to you. I'll bring it to you. 
  •  CRAFTS: Sounds good. I'm picking up some -- 
  •  AMBROSINI-BACON: Maybe the air? 
  •  CRAFTS: Yeah. Oh, well. Does this look crooked to you? I, like, I get - I can never, like, tell, exactly. 
  •  AMBROSINI-BACON: I think a little bit. Usually - Cause, like the legs just aren't - 
  •  CRAFTS: The legs - I pulled them all out. So I thought - 
  •  AMBROSINI-BACON: Yeah, even when they're all out all the way, one of them's just a little bit off. 
  •  CRAFTS: A little bigger? 
  •  AMBROSINI-BACON: Yea I think maybe lower that back one a little bit? 
  •  CRAFTS: Okay. This one - 
  •  AMBROSINI-BACON: And look at that bubble. Is it this one? 
  •  HOGAN: I'll try to take some of this stuff out of here. 
  •  CRAFTS: Is that better? That looks better to me. 
  •  AMBROSINI-BACON: Is that better? Let's just look at the - 
  •  CRAFTS: That looks - it could be a little more [inaudible]. 
  •  AMBROSINI-BACON: Like that? 
  •  CRAFTS: Yeah. That looks pretty good. Yeah. It's good. 
  •  AMBROSINI-BACON: Okay, cool. 
  •  DONNA HOGAN: Not a lot of photos, so y'all don't have to worry I'm gonna share a lot. 
  •  AMBROSINI-BACON: Oh, no, it's good, and it's a good way to kind of recall certain memories and that kind of thing. 
  •  HOGAN: Yeah. Yeah. This is his picture. My - I'm gonna tell you a little bit about my son, so you can kinda get a idea. He was only twenty-five years old, so he was just beginning his career, with doing - promoting local talent in the rap music area or whatever you want to say. He was - he liked music. I'll just put it like that. And so he was into music and socializing. He had been - 
  •  CRAFTS: Actually, sorry, I can't put this up. Would you mind - is it okay to sit? 
  •  HOGAN: Sit? Yeah, I better sit. Yeah, let me sit. Okay, yeah, that's better. Is it rolling - it's not rolling yet, huh? 
  •  CRAFTS: Okay. Sorry about that. 
  •  DONNA HOGAN: That's okay. I really do - I - It's probably better. LeDuke was a - he wanted to always work for himself. He wanted to be his own entrepreneur. He just decided he didn't want to do nine to five. 
  •  HOGAN: He wanted to - started off working with the legal field, working with prepaid legal, and he - at that point, he was able to meet up with a lot of the mentors that mentored - or wanted to mentor him in being an entrepreneur, you know, doing things that he really liked. 
  •  HOGAN: So he started off with doing prepaid legal and then later wanted to do local talent, wanted to be a producer - music producer - and research and do things with local talent here in Houston. 
  •  HOGAN: And he wanted to be able to get with different people that was interested in the music business and then try to promote music outside of Houston, like take Houston talent to Louisiana, Atlanta - you know how you get people on that's just starting in the music business - that's the type of work he wanted to do. 
  •  DONNA HOGAN: And so that's what he started off - he had a recording studio at first, just a little small area in the Bellaire area. He had a little - I want to say it was a little studio. And they could go and record music - gospel, rap, all different types of music. 
  •  HOGAN: And then later, he decided to move out of that area and go to an area - when he was in Bellaire, in the evening time it was kinda quiet and he didn't get much business, so he decided to move to another area of Houston that was in the Southwest Houston - where more people, more the younger crowd. 
  •  HOGAN: And he moved into this strip center where they had a little reggae club or whatever little club where young people hung out and when they would leave the club in the night, they would - they had other businesses that was open in the evening, where they would all gang and talk, and he - 
  •  HOGAN: That's where he got the idea to open up a record shop where people, when they would leave - when they would leave out of the club or whatever, they could come over to his record shop and listen to music. So he had just acquired this location about six months before. 
  •  HOGAN: Actually he hadn't even had the grand opening. He was just getting ready for the grand opening when this incident happened.So what happened as far as I know, that particular evening he was here visiting. He had had trouble working with his car, he had some trouble - he had been having some trouble with his radiator and he had - was staying over here that particular weekend. 
  •  HOGAN: And it happened on a Monday. And when I came home from work he was here, he was relaxing here at the house and he went to pick up his car from the auto repair shop that's right around the corner. And so we all had a good evening - my husband and I - we were laughing and talking and he got up and the Astros - the Houston Astros was in the playoffs during that year. 
  •  HOGAN: So he was gonna go home and watch one of the playoffs games, and got up and went and picked up his car from the repair shop. And he laughed and talked with us and that was the last time I really saw him that afternoon, probably about five-thirty to six o'clock. 
  •  HOGAN: And he was gonna go over and be with my nephews, his cousins, they were gonna hang out and watch the Astros game. And so they say he was there till about 8:30 or 9 o'clock, and he had an appointment with some local musicians to do a recording about eleven o'clock that night. They usually record at night. 
  •  HOGAN: And so he had a recording session that was gonna take place about eleven o'clock that night. And my nephews say he left and he went to get something to eat and he was gonna meet his musicians around eleven o'clock. So that's the last we heard.Then about eleve-thirty that night, me and my husband had just laid down for the evening and my husband was still awake but we were both in the bedroom. 
  •  HOGAN: I had just laid down, and we got a knock on the door, right here on the front door, and it wasn't a normal knock, it was like a pounding knock. Like somebody just knocking hard or ringing the doorbell real fast, so - about me, I was just in a twilight sleep, I really didn't hear, but I heard the banging on my front door. 
  •  HOGAN: And then after we didn't move fast, the person, it was one of my son's friends, had heard that my son had been shot.Somebody phoned - the area, the Southwest area, had called him and told him that my son had been shot. So he came to our bedroom window and knocked on the bedroom window real hard, and called out my husband's name, and called out my name, and telling us that my son had been shot. So I jumped up. 
  •  HOGAN: I thought it was - you know that's one of them calls you never ever wanna hear.But anyways, I - I jumped up and got dressed and - to go to the front door. Me and my husband went to the front door and he - the guy said - well, he didn't have very much information. 
  •  HOGAN: All he knew was that a call had came that my son had been shot in his business establishment. So just as I was - first thing I did, I just fell to my knees, and I just - it was just some type of feeling that was just saying that my son was gone. I don't know what it was, it was just like - it was just like a calm between - in a storm, but it was like a calm. 
  •  HOGAN: And so just as I was turning around - I was right in this area right here in the living room - the telephone started to ring. And it was Ben Taub Hospital telling me - telling me that - asking me and my husband could - how soon could be come to the hospital? 
  •  HOGAN: So I was saying to the lady - I'll never forget that lady's name, her name was Portia, and she said - and I said, "I know he's been shot." I said, "I already know he's been shot. What is his condition?"And she said, " Well, ma'am, we can't talk about that. You have to come to the hospital." 
  •  HOGAN: So my husband and I, we hurriedly started getting dressed to go to the hospital. And by that time, family members had started hearing about the incident. You know, it just spread like wildfire. My son was well-known, well-liked in the community, and he was just like the everyday hero, everybody knew him. 
  •  HOGAN: So he was - so the word started getting out, and my daughter heard about it by then.At that time, my daughter was probably four or five months pregnant with her son. And she was kinda in a fragile state at that time, because, you know, she hadn't had a baby for awhile, and then she was - she was just very very upset. 
  •  HOGAN: We're a very close family, and her being the only girl, she was very protective of her brothers, and especially him, cause he was the type of person who'd give you the shirt off of his back. Whatever they needed, if he had it, you could get it. So she was upset, and everybody was calling.We didn't have any information. I didn't know if my son was badly injured; I didn't know if he was dead; I didn't know what the situation was. 
  •  HOGAN: So my husband and I, we hurriedly got ready and started heading to the hospital, Ben Taub. And I just insisted to my husband that I drive. And my husband didn't want me - but he said - I said please - I said, " Just let me drive." I said, " That will calm me, if you just let me drive." 
  •  HOGAN: My husband thought it wasn't a good time but, you know, I drove. I had the last word. I drove to the hospital as fast as I could. But there was nobody on the road. It was - looked like there was like about - it was going up to about twelve o'clock then - and looked like - it wasn't - didn't even look like a dog went across the road. 
  •  HOGAN: It was just - looked like it was clear sailing for me all the way to the hospital. And so we got there.When I got to the hospital, my nephews, my son's cousins, other neighborhood friends - they were already there. They met us at the hospital. They were already sitting in the waiting room at Ben Taub. 
  •  HOGAN: And --.Because I had experienced it before with one of my neighbors, usually when they come out and they take you to a family room or something, it usually means the person has already expired or they have – real, real serious. So when they met the doctors and the nurses and they met us as we arrived to Ben Taub Emergency Room, and when they took me in that little room, I already knew he was gone. 
  •  HOGAN: I mean, within my spirit. I already knew my son was gone.Even when the lady called me, and my husband said, " Why are you saying that?" I said, "I just know." I said, "It's just something - the spirit is just telling me that he's gone. He's not just hurt. He's gone."So when the doctors and nurses - they were there standing, waiting for us when we got there. 
  •  HOGAN: As soon as they got us in the room - the immediate family - I got them - our daughter, my oldest son was there - my younger son, that's another story. I wasn't able to get in contact with him. I thought maybe both of them had been injured, cause they were real, real close. 
  •  HOGAN: They were - when you saw one, you saw the other.But anyway - they told us that LeDuke - that they had worked on him. And they really did work on him, but they wasn't able to save him. And the autopsy reports showed that he had a single gunshot wound to his abdomen - single gunshot, but it was the type of bullet that it was, it was one of those hollow-point bullets, and it just went in. 
  •  HOGAN: It damaged his internal organs, and that's what really killed him - wasn't very much blood, it was just a very, very tiny entry to his abdomen. Here, right here on the left side. But because it was one of those hollow-point bullets, it damaged all his internal organs and that's what really killed him. 
  •  HOGAN: He didn't have any drugs or alcohol in his system, none of that.And I was just glad to know that, because usually when young people are gathering, when things happen - and I don't care what community it is, whether it's Black, Hispanic, or whatever - they always assume it's drugs, or drug-related, or it's altercation-related. 
  •  HOGAN: With young people they always assume the worst, so for me that was calming for me to know that he wasn't on any drugs or alcohol - nothing like that. So that was good for me.But to this point they haven't found out who murdered him. 
  •  HOGAN: They showed my husband and I - we stayed at Ben Taub Hospital from twelve o'clock until five o'clock a.m. before they would let us go in and really identify - I wanted to see for myself - and the nurses and doctors asked us - asked me would I like to donate his organs and his tissue or his skin or - since he was a young person they could use it for research - and things like that. 
  •  HOGAN: And I gave my consent, but because it was a homicide case, you know, when the homicide - when they have to do autopsies and things like that, they have to disturb the body and getting evidence and stuff like that - it took too long for them to be able to get the tissue and everything, so - but I had assumed that they had did the tissue work and got what they needed. 
  •  HOGAN: I really wanted his eyes donated. He had good twenty-twenty vision. I knew his heart probably wouldn't be able to be saved, but maybe his skin or something like that could be donated to help somebody else. I just wanted a part of him to continue to live. 
  •  HOGAN: So I didn't even know that they didn't get it until after the funeral, and then I got a letter that because of the autopsy and them taking so long, that they were not able to get his tissue to be able to be used for research.But anyway, we went and five hours later they let us go in and view his body. 
  •  HOGAN: And I just wanted to see that it was him. I just wanted to see for myself. So my ex-husband, which was LeDuke's father, was there; his stepfather, which was my husband; my daughter and her husband and my son - they said only two of us could go in. 
  •  HOGAN: But I begged the lady, please let us all have the opportunity to - for one, that we wouldn't touch the body, we would just - just view it and come out. And they did, they - she - with very much dignity, they allowed us to go in and view his body just for a few minutes, and we all came out. 
  •  HOGAN: So, that was a - it's a moment I'll never forget. That was the toughest day of my life. It was tough. But - it was hard. But we was - we was together as a family, and we all grieved in our own different ways, but we made it. We made it through. 
  •  HOGAN: But in a way - here's some pictures I want to share, of us in good times. He was a dresser- he used to like to dress up. He was into hip-hop then - probably now that he would be old, he would probably be out of the hip-hop stuff, but - these are some old family vacations - I mean, at the park, Mother's Day, you might not - can't even see him. This is baby pictures when he was like nine months old. 
  •  CRAFTS: Yeah, I wonder - how can we do this so we can see - 
  •  DONNA HOGAN: You might not, can't see em, but 
  •  AMBROSINI-BACON: We could have you turn it, or we could bring the camera 
  •  CRAFTS: Yeah, maybe I could bring the camera closer, and you can, like, hold it up? 
  •  DONNA HOGAN: Yeah, maybe I'll just show one picture anyway. 
  •  CRAFTS: Yeah. Okay. (camera readjusted) 
  •  DONNA HOGAN: This is him - yeah, you might just have to take it. This was him when he was about nine months old. You can't really see it that good. This is some of our family time. This is his first son when he was born. I mean, this is the youngest baby when he was born. Some of the moments we had here, and there's some more pictures of when he was like three months old. 
  •  AMBROSINI-BACON: So cute. 
  •  DONNA HOGAN: And this was him later, and this is when he was in elementary. This is some more family pictures. We were always together for holidays and birthdays. I think that was his birthday. We were - and this was him and I when he brought me my first leather coat on the Christmas before he passed away. 
  •  HOGAN: He brought my - he brought me a leather coat - red- and he brought my husband a leather coat.And this was his birthday. He loved birthdays. He loved birthdays. This was him when he was in elementary, some of his teachers. Just family moments, you know, that we had.That's him and his children. His son. 
  •  HOGAN: This was when his old car - they liked the cars, him and his brother, they used to fix up old cars - and this really wasn't an old car, this was really a nice car right here - but they would go out to Galveston on the beach and hang out. That's him at the beach in Galveston, just chilling a little bit. 
  •  HOGAN: And that's just about it.And this is just - these are just some pictures he had taken before his death that we all didn't even know he had a series of pictures - but some professional pictures he had had done of himself just hanging around and hanging out.And then this is his obituary, maybe you want to see it. His obituary, some family pictures in there. And that's pretty much it. That's not a lot. Most are the same pictures. 
  •  HOGAN: Yeah. Let me show you some of the people.This here is - you might not see it well, but this is my husband and myself, and this is him and his brother when they were in elementary school, and my daughter. This is just family times - Halloween, dress-up time, when they would go riding around town. 
  •  HOGAN: And then these are some celebrities - this is my son's three boys right here, this is his three children. At the time, Tredric was eight, LeParius was five, and LeQarius was seven. This at the time - now they're big teenagers now.My son, he had a lot of local talent friends. I don't know if you know some of these people. 
  •  HOGAN: I don't know their names - this is Keith Sweat, and this is the man that did movies. I can't think of his name - John - John - I forgot his name.But anyways, these are some of his - these are family pictures and some of his local talent friends that he did music producing with. 
  •  HOGAN: And this is the guy that was one of his mentors when he was in the prepaid legal business. They're just people - when he travelled all around, he went to Dallas, San Antonio, Louisiana, Atlanta. They just went around promoting music all different places. And that's pretty much it that I have on him.[camera readjusted] 
  •  HOGAN: I'll wait until you get it set. 
  •  AMBROSINI-BACON: Thank you for showing us those. 
  •  DONNA HOGAN: Yes, that's kind of nice, kind of like gives you a little interest in who the person is. He liked the best. He was the type of person - he didn't like it shabby. He had nice clothes, nice furniture - he made money, when he was - when you're in that type of business you might make a lot of money one time and the next time you might not have too much money. 
  •  HOGAN: It was kind of hard.But whatever he had he shared with us as a family. He would just sometimes come by and tell my husband, " Y'all look like y'all are hungry today. Why don't y'all go up to Papa's and get you something to eat?" He'd just make jokes with us like that. 
  •  HOGAN: And on Valentine's Day, every year he would have me a big bouquet of red roses. Every year for Valentine's Day. Every year. I miss that about him. He was a giving - giving - person.I mean, he would help me every Friday. He would help. If there was a guy that I met that said one day he didn't have nothing, LeDuke paid his rent for him. 
  •  HOGAN: He even bought - one time, it was already the car he had but he gave it to his friend. His friend didn't have a car, and he had a nice car, so he gave it to his friend. And so he was a giving person. I liked that about him. 
  •  HOGAN: So whoever murdered him - we don't know why, we don't know if it was about money, we don't know if it was about maybe having a contract, could've been about - because he was a singer guy, could've been over a woman - you know whenever they're young like that, you never really know what could be a beef with the person. 
  •  HOGAN: Could've been because people thought he had more than what he had, which he had very little - I think when the coroner gave me his contents, he had about 36 dollars. That's all the money he had on him.But they investigated his murder, and it's still open. It's five years now. 
  •  HOGAN: We just had a candlelight vigil on October the eighteenth this year. As a matter of fact, I even made television. Channel 11 did an interview of me and my family, the whole entire family, and other support groups. I'm in a support group with Parents with Murdered Children - you know, you saw them, that's the way I met you - and also another group called the [Unsolved Violent Crime Alert]. 
  •  HOGAN: And they both basically the same organization except that the Unsolved Violent Crime Alert is based here in our immediate neighborhood. As you know, the Parents of Murdered Children is in the Heights area. Well, we have a lot of deaths and a lot of young people in this immediate area that had suffered a lot of unsolved crimes too. 
  •  HOGAN: So this lady, Ms. Jennifer Johnson, she took it another level and kind of brought it over in our community a little bit more, because a lot of our families couldn't always go out to the Heights area and participate with them. But we still always join in together when we have events like the - when they had a National Day of Remembrance, when we have other things that's going on with crime victims, we still come together. 
  •  HOGAN: So that's why I meet up with both organizations. Cause we all have a common cause. It's not about Black, white, Hispanic. It's all for the common cause. It's that we keep it out there that people know that our children meant something to us, and that their crimes are still unsolved. 
  •  HOGAN: And it's not just our children, it's just anybody, any loved one, any human being that's been murdered. And it helps to be in those support groups because it helps you to not just focus on you all the time. It helps you to focus on other people that's going through the same thing that you going through. 
  •  HOGAN: It's more comforting to know - to be among other people that's going through the same thing that you going through. So that's why I love that organization.Sometimes we have events, like for Mother's Day and Christmas and all - 'cause you know, you can imagine holidays and things is the hardest time for us because that person is just not there. 
  •  HOGAN: But you just learn to just go forward and go on with it. But you realize that that person is not there, and you never forget. You never forget. Never, ever. You might put it in the back side of your mind for awhile, but this is always there. On my Christmas tree I have an ornament in his memory. 
  •  HOGAN: Every year for Christmas we always put that ornament up in his memory, to let him know that he's still a part of this family. I don't care what - it's still just off a little way. Also in the back - it's not all that - I don't have all that manicured right now - but I have a little garden right in my backyard in remembrance of him and my husband. 
  •  HOGAN: Just to me it's like life growing in the backyard. I have some of the plants from there - funeral services, and things that I kept, and you'd be surprised, they don't never die. 
  •  HOGAN: They just continue to grow, even without a little bit of care.You know, they still continue to grow, so that's what I do in remembrance of them - and try to be a part of their family, I mean his family, his boys, even though their mothers have since moved on - married, or got other significant others, they've had other children and things like that. 
  •  HOGAN: So we don't see each other as much as I would love to see them. I wish I could see them more, cause that's the only little connection that I have to my son is his kids. But I understand that their mothers, you know, they moved on in other relationships and things, so sometimes it just can't be all the time.And they have very few rights for grandparents. 
  •  HOGAN: They tell me there's some rights that we have, maybe for visitation, but you know you have to get lawyers involved and all of that, and I don't want to make more hardship on their mothers than necessary. 
  •  HOGAN: And because my son was so young and didn't really have an active, like, would you say a per se job, or hadn't really been established long, his children wasn't able to receive any kind of compensation or social security or anything like that. 
  •  HOGAN: So the only thing I can do as a grandmother is try to offer my assistance when I can, and when I can and give it in whatever forms that we as a family have. We still try to do for them - for them, when we can.So that's pretty much my story. That's pretty much all I can really say on that. 
  •  HOGAN: Oh - I want to say on the investigation, though, I feel like the detectives tried when they first - when they first got the case, I think they - they - they - they interviewed some people, they followed some leads, but with so many murders and things in the - in this metropolitan area, there's no way for them to keep one-on-one with every case. 
  •  HOGAN: There's so many cases. And unless they get a lead, unless they get something to redirect them or whatever, it's probably just, virtually, unless someone just confesses, somebody says they saw something, or somebody comes forward, it's probably very much the detectives can do.We do keep in touch. I do keep in touch with one of the lead investigators, Darcus Shorten. 
  •  HOGAN: The other investigator that was on the case, it was a older gentleman, he retired, maybe about six months after LeDuke's death. So he was no longer - so he left me with Shorten by herself.And then for a period of time, she left the police department. 
  •  HOGAN: She adopted a baby and she left the police - she didn't leave the police department, but she left the homicide division. So my son's case got what? Just pushed to the barrel, you know, bottom of the barrel. I'm not gonna say it wasn't looked at, but it was just turned over to some more detectives that wasn't very familiar with the case. 
  •  HOGAN: So last year I was happy to know that Darcus Shorten- she returned as the lead detective - the one that went out to the scene, the one that interviewed me, the one where I went down to the police department - you know, we kind of got personal. 
  •  HOGAN: She still has got the case open and she still listens out for leads.But it's up to us as the family to keep it out there - keep the fliers going. That's why we had the candlelight vigil, in October - in the same area it happened we put out fliers - we put out about two hundred fliers that the Crimestoppers printed up for me. 
  •  HOGAN: They've been very nice and supportive through the Parents of Murdered Children and those different detectives and community support and Andy Kahan, those people do help you. They give you as much support as they can for murder victims, so they do tell us to update, they do put you on Crimestoppers if you so desire to be on Crimestoppers and they still - you still as a family have to keep it out there. 
  •  HOGAN: They'll investigate it, but it is up to you to keep - keep the fliers going, keep letting the public know that it's unsolved and whatever.So that's just pretty much that on the investigation. And we don't have any leads on nothing. 
  •  HOGAN: I haven't heard anything, we haven't - early on in the investigation, we had a theory, but unless you have really evidence, they - even if you think it might be something, might think it is - unless they have enough evidence, they can't do anything with the case. So that's the way it stands, now it's been five years. And the case is still open. So if you have any other questions for me, I'm open. 
  •  AMBROSINI-BACON: Yeah, I wonder if - you were kind of telling about going to the hospital and viewing your son. I wondered if you could maybe go back and talk about what happened after that and talk about your family's response, your personal response, and how you got through this? 
  •  DONNA HOGAN: Yeah, I started telling you about my youngest son LeVar. LeDuke and LeVar are about eighteen months apart in age. So I couldn't find him that night. I mean I called him, and we kept trying to text him and - I mean, trying to call him, but we couldn't get him. 
  •  HOGAN: So that morning I woke - actually we arrived back here at the house. I came back about 6 o'clock in the morning, and by that time my neighbors had heard, it was on the news. It was on Channel thirteen News and one of my neighbors that lives right over in this corner over here - she met me at the door. 
  •  HOGAN: And she - and she had just recently lost a son too, he was in a tragic car accident. And my son and her son were similar in age. He might have been a few months - years older, but anyway, she came and met me at the door and she held me and let me know that it would be all right. 
  •  HOGAN: And it made me feel good to know my neighbor at six o'clock in the morning - she knew what I was going through and felt like what I was going through, and she met me.My husband and my oldest son - they took off and went over to the location where he had got shot and brought his car home, because after the incident, where, all his personal belonging and stuff had to be - so they went and got the car. 
  •  HOGAN: But keep in mind this - my youngest son I still hadn't got in touch with. So I was just getting frantic. I was just thinking that maybe something had happened to him, too. Maybe - maybe they were together, or what. But what had happened - he had went to his girlfriend's and his cell phone had dropped in some water - the toilet or something - and he was letting it dry out or whatever, and he couldn't receive any phone calls. 
  •  HOGAN: So we made it a pact that no matter what, wherever we are, that - I don't care where it is, how late it is - he checks in. We check in with each other. I don't care what it is - you know, I'm out for the night, I'm down at Sally's, I'm at wherever - we keep in touch with each other. He checks on me and I check on him.And he got the news that morning. 
  •  HOGAN: One of his - finally when the phone dried out, he got the call - I mean, he got one of the voice messages telling him what had happened. Finally one of my nephews was able to contact him and he was just crazy out of his mind. I thought - I just didn't know what was going to happen to him, cause that was his friend. 
  •  HOGAN: And another thing that had happened between those two is that at that time they had had a dispute, or a disagreement, and that made it even worse for him because they hadn't got it straight. They were still angry about something that was probably petty that - they hadn't got it straight before. And that hurt him the worst. 
  •  HOGAN: So if anything, I would say that we've gotten out of this tragedy - I did counseling too for about - my job offered like two sessions of counseling with a psychologist for my job - a lot of jobs have those in most personnel policies and things. 
  •  HOGAN: And so when I met with her the first - the first week after I returned back to work - I think I stayed off work maybe about a week or two, because I was a teacher at that time, and I was in a classroom, and I didn't want to be crying in front of my students, cause they're very sensitive to what's going on with you. 
  •  HOGAN: When you're sad, they're sad, you know, they be - and I'm sure that they had heard what had happened, cause their parents - they made calls, people brought food, and it was just nice the way people treated us. So I wanted to be sure that I wasn't gonna be teary-eyed in front of my students. 
  •  HOGAN: So I stayed off maybe about two weeks so I could be sure my composure was good for them.But anyway, the psychologist - she interviewed me, and the first thing she said to me was, "What do you think good came out of your son's death?"And that was my first day, now remember, just keep in mind this was my first week - this was about two weeks after the death, and I said to her - first I thought about it. 
  •  HOGAN: I said, what is she saying? What is she saying? I wanted to be sure I wasn't just being negative or upset.So she said, "But just think about it for a minute. What good came out of your son's death?" And I thought about it for a minute, and I said, "You know, we came together as a family." 
  •  HOGAN: All the things that wasn't right was right then. Things like - oh, like, you know how teenagers do, they leave and they don't say where they're going. Like my sons, they were adult men, but as a mother you still wanna know where they're going, cause things happen. 
  •  HOGAN: As young ladies, you should think about when you leave home to let somebody know where you're going. Let your number be known.And sometimes you think you're so grown you don't have to tell nobody - I don't have to tell nobody where I'm going - because things do happen. So I learned that out of the situation. 
  •  HOGAN: Even me. When I'm here, and when I get ready to leave, I let somebody know where I'm going. If I'm going to be gone - especially if I'm going to be gone more than a couple hours, I tell my daughter "Oh, I'm going to the store, I'm going out for the evening, I'm going to the movies." 
  •  HOGAN: Just say something, so if something happens, at least you've got a trail - find out where you are. My husband - my ex-husband and I hadn't spoken for awhile. His dad and - there was some guilt there - I'm not even gonna say just on his part, maybe on his dad's part, that maybe he hadn't been more involved in his life. 
  •  HOGAN: You know, a lot of things just come to the forefront.My grandchildren learned that you never know when it's your last time to see that person that you care about. They got that concept. They learned that.I think we learned to be together more as a family, more closer, instead of just being - I got mine, and you get yours and come on. 
  •  HOGAN: I think we've learned to share more, let's just say that. Share more of our feelings and things like that. I think that's what we mainly got out of it more. To give more, share more. If you bless the house I'm gonna share with somebody.That's what he did. 
  •  HOGAN: He - that's what my son did, so I think the biggest legacy you can do in your loved one's absence is to do good. Treat somebody else kind. Do something out of the ordinary. Do something out of the ordinary that you don't normally do. Yeah, you might give a dollar to the company picnic, but maybe you need to give more. Maybe just give of yourself. Give more of your time. 
  •  HOGAN: And stuff like that - I think that's what we got more out of, of his death.And so that's what I have carried on. I decided not to have a pity party. There's parents and people that you can inspire, encourage - that you can give a kind word to while they're going through it, let them know that you've been through it. 
  •  HOGAN: I think that everything that we're going through in life we go through for a reason. We go through it for a reason. And it's not always to tear us down but to strengthen us too. You know, it's to strengthen us.And I learned - another thing I learned - money's not everything. 
  •  HOGAN: 'Cause back then, when you're young, all you want to think about is how much money I can make, and how much I can be on top of the world. And a lot of times our young people, they're looking at these music moguls and rap stars and all of those kind of people. 
  •  HOGAN: And some of the lifestyles of those people can get you hurt and get you killed. Having the biggest car, having the biggest rims, all that kind of thing - that's what they kill you for the worst. When you're going down the street, your car is all pretty, lot of times it draws attention to you, it gives the impression that you have more than what you have. 
  •  HOGAN: So I think the simpler things in life is better.And in turn, my youngest - next youngest - oldest son, he turned his whole entire life around. He used to be in the hip-hop world. He used to be out there. He used to have clothes, the women, cars, wasn't going to church, wasn't giving. 
  •  HOGAN: And in turn, when you see that the lifestyle of the rich and famous is not all that glamorous, that only what you really do for Christ and for others is really what's gonna last. And so that's been a positive in our family. My son, he gave it up, came out of the world, turned his life around, gave his life to God, and now he's getting ready to get married, and all of those things have passed away. 
  •  HOGAN: And all those silly things that you do, like low-rider cars, and you know what you do when you're young, you just mature away from it. And I think that that gave my son a negative feel after then, and my grandchildren. You know this effect - this is a domino effect, it affects the whole entire family. 
  •  HOGAN: You know, I don't want no care with no nothing extra on it. I just want to be plain. I don't - again, I don't - I want to look clean but I don't want to be - I don't have to have no Gucci purse and all of that, because it draws - you know what I'm saying? 
  •  HOGAN: It draws more attention to you, and you can lose your life behind those things.So to me, that's what it - that's what - that's what - some of things that it helped me to have different values. To help someone have something nice, but don't be too flashy with it either. 
  •  HOGAN: Just be nice, and so I think that's what we've learned as a family. And I think that's a positive thing. I think that's a positive thing. Cause my son sometimes would give the kids things that their parents would tell them they didn't need, or they didn't want, but he would give it to them, so sometimes that would - you know what I'm saying. 
  •  HOGAN: That can cause teenagers to get a different concept of things. And I think he would do it because maybe he was single and he could do it, but you understand we gotta let our children know that it's not all about name brand clothes and the - you know what I'm saying. 
  •  HOGAN: Not just about name brand this and name brand that.The thing of it is, you've got a roof over your head. You got food on your table. You got - you know, you get an education. And don't worry about all of those other flashy things.I'm so glad when they went to uniforms in school. 
  •  HOGAN: I was so glad when they did that, because a lot of children was looking at what kind of shoes you got on, what name brand - I like them shoes you got on, just plain, but comfortable. Just plain. And I think that's what a lot of kids have gotten away from. 
  •  HOGAN: They think that they have to have all of this expensive stuff, and those kind of stuff - those kind of things can get your life taken away from you.So I think that's what I got, mainly. And I hope that's the type of values my children and my grandchildren - the legacy that I want to live for them. So do we still remember? 
  •  HOGAN: Yes, we do. And so - but yet it still is positive too. It's positive things, too. So that's all I have for you. 
  •  CRAFTS: Should I switch the tape? 
  •  AMBROSINI-BACON: Oh, yeah 
  •  [End Tape 1] Watch  Video 2 of "Interview with Ms. Donna Hogan." 
 
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Title:Interview with Donna Hogan
Abstract:Donna Hogan is the mother of LeDuke Woodard, who was murdered in 2004 in Houston. As of July 2011, Woodard's murderer has not yet been identified. In Video 1, Donna Hogan describes how she and her husband learned of their son's death; the Houston Police Department investigation of her son's murder; her activities with Houston-based organizations Parents of Murdered Children and Unsolved Violent Crime Alert; her efforts to keep her son's memory alive; and the emotional and psychological after-effects of the murder. In Video 2, Hogan describes her opposition to the death penalty and her wish that her son's killer be apprehended. She provides additional information about her son's murder and describes the similarities and differences between the Parents of Murdered Children and the Unsolved Violent Crime Alert. Hogan compares the grief she felt at the death of her husband from cancer to that caused by the sudden killing of her son. Hogan tells of her efforts to remain connected with her son's children and advises people who lose loved ones to homicide to make sure to they find strong support systems, including support groups and counseling as necessary. This interview took place in Houston, Harris County, Texas on December 10, 2009.
Sequence:1 of 2
Creators:
  • Donna HoganRole: Narrator
  • Texas After Violence ProjectRole: Collaborator
Contributors:
  • Kimberly Ambrosini-BaconRole: Interviewer
  • Lydia CraftsRole: Videographer
  • Lydia CraftsRole: Transcriber
  • Maurice ChammahRole: Proofreader
  • Mary O'GradyRole: Writer of accompanying material
Date Created:2009/12/10
Languages:eng
Geographic Focus:North America--United States--Texas
Geographic Base:North America--United States--Texas--Austin
Type of Resource:Moving image
Genre:Interview
Identifier:tav00029
Rights:
    This electronic resource is made available by the University of Texas Libraries solely for the purposes of research, teaching and private study. All intellectual property rights are retained by the legal copyright holders. The University of Texas does not hold the copyright to the content of this file. Formal permission to reuse or republish this content must be obtained from the copyright holder.

 

 

 

Continue with Video 2 of the TAVP Interview with Ms. Donna Hogan.

Return to TAVP Interviews.