Interview with Donna Hogan

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Transcript 
  •  CRAFTS: - Talk about your views about the death penalty before the paper and how did it - 
  •  DONNA HOGAN: Death penalty?Well, I did - we did an argumentative paper when I was doing English - I think it was English two, I think I was doing then - an argumentative piece on the death penalty. That's the subject that I picked. And I did a lot of research on the death penalty, the pros and cons of the death penalty 
  •  HOGAN: And my view then, and I still have that view, I was against the death penalty. It was an argumentative paper, and what we had to do - the pros and cons of the death penalty.And so some people were saying a lot - sometimes it's the low income people - people maybe not having the right attorney - like they might have a court-appointed attorney, and they might not fight enough for them and everything. 
  •  HOGAN: A lot of times some of the death penalty cases, all the evidence wasn't gathered, and they have in turn killed - wrongly killed - innocent people. And so when you talk about the death penalty, a lot of it has to do with your spirituality, too, cause some of us are taught that thou shalt not kill. 
  •  HOGAN: That God will judge those that have been unjust. And for me, all my life I've been spiritual, so my view is that God will bring justice - justice forth.And even though my son has been murdered, and I still would like to know who killed my son, I'm still against the death penalty because taking another person's life - to me, taking another person's life, even though he took my son - that person took my son's life, I don't feel like it's really justice. 
  •  HOGAN: It's not gonna bring my son back. And I feel like, that that person is gonna maybe suffer in other ways. And I don't think it would be right for me to make that decision to take that person's life.And I still have that same view. Have I forgiven that person? Yes, I have. Would I like to still know who the person is? 
  •  HOGAN: Yes, I would, because I would like to know, just as closure to me, I would like to know, did he do something against you? Was it the heat of a moment? Was it maybe a contract dispute? Was it over a female, or was it over a man thing, or whatever it was, I would just like to know what was the reason. 
  •  HOGAN: Maybe because my son was a business owner, he did have his concealed handgun license, and maybe this person had known he had carried a weapon, and maybe he shot him first, maybe thinking he would be shot? All those are still answers I don't know. That's the thing I would like to know. 
  •  HOGAN: For me as a crime victim, I would like for the person to be found.Would I want them given the death penalty? I would have to say no. And in my heart, whoever killed him, I feel like they are suffering in torment in some type of way. I don't think, unless they have some type of mental illness, that they're not - that they're not feeling the effects of taking another person's life. 
  •  HOGAN: Especially if it was somebody that knew him. And, see, the part of it is that I don't know if it was somebody that knew him or if it was somebody that was just totally didn't know him - just robbed him and killed him. I don't know - but I have a suspicious feeling that it was somebody that knew him. 
  •  HOGAN: And the reason I feel like it was somebody that know - knew him is because the business where he was, you couldn't just walk in at that time of night. It was a buzzer. He would have to buzz you in. So that disturbs me the most, because it was somebody that knew him, and for - it had to be somebody that knew him was for me when first of all, they knew he had a concealed handgun. 
  •  HOGAN: Secondly, he wouldn't have let them in if he didn't know who they were. And he had a camera in there and he didn't have the camera on. So he was comfortable with whoever he let in that night. He was expecting some people, but they say by the time they arrived at 11 o'clock it had already taken place. 
  •  HOGAN: The crime scene tape was already around the scene. He was shot inside of the facility and he stumbled to the outside. And in a grassy area - there was a little tree - grassy area right outside of the business, that's where his body was found. I mean - he was still alive.And there was a tattoo shop right next door to my son's establishment. 
  •  HOGAN: And the guy, he heard - it was two guys in the shop next door, in the tattoo shop next door. They heard the altercation. They heard him say, "Oh, man, it's gonna go down like this?", like my son was in shock, or he didn't think that by them being friends or acquaintances that they would shoot him like that. 
  •  HOGAN: So the guy said - matter of fact, I met the guy on the 18th when I went over this year. I had heard about him but I had never met him. And he came out, and he talked to me, and he was telling me about the moments before my son's - before the ambulance took him away. 
  •  HOGAN: He said he found his body laying there. He said he saw a car drive off. He said he couldn't tell the make or the model of the car but he did see people speeding away - a car speeding away, and that he held my son's head up and my son didn't speak. He didn't say anything. 
  •  HOGAN: But he said his eyes were open and that he was trying to say something but he didn't say anything. He said he held him. He said he was the one who made the call to the paramedics. And he said my son looked like he was just at peace.But they said they worked on him about 30 minutes in the parking lot, so he didn't die immediately, like immediately. 
  •  HOGAN: But Ben Taub said by the time they got him there that they had worked on him but they just couldn't resuscitate him.So my opinion - it was somebody that he was acquainted with. I don't think it was just a total stranger, because I just know he protected himself because a lot of his business he was doing at night. 
  •  HOGAN: I just know - I just feel like it was somebody that knew him. I really do. And I know if it was somebody that knew him, I think they probably shot him because they probably felt like he probably - he had - because in the crime scene, the lady said - the detective said that he had his gun right here on the arm of the chair, but he didn't ever try to pull it. He didn't even get it out of the holster or nothing. 
  •  HOGAN: He just had it sitting there. So that person probably felt like - they probably knew that he carried a concealed hand weapon, and that he might - so that's why I'm sure it was probably somebody that knew him. Go ahead and ask me. 
  •  CRAFTS: How much would you say you think about your son and what happened? 
  •  HOGAN: How much? 
  •  CRAFTS: How much is it on your mind, would you say? 
  •  HOGAN: Usually throughout the day it's not on my mind. Sometimes when I come home, the memories is always here. And several times, I've thought about really moving. Maybe - I really did. Cause it's just so many memories of the neighborhood, the house. 
  •  HOGAN: He would come in and "Mom, I'm home" every day. When I was seeing him, I thought about maybe changing the scenery, but I thought - I really felt like he was always gonna be in my heart, and I don't care where I would go. And I just keep positive memories of him always in my heart. 
  •  HOGAN: I think about it daily, though. But not always negatively. I think about just him, the fun, loving person that he was, and stuff. I don't think about the murder all the time. But I just think about him every day. 
  •  CRAFTS: So you belong to two victims' groups. Can you talk about both of those groups and maybe some of the similarities and differences between them? 
  •  HOGAN: Well, Parents of Murdered Children is a national - is a well-known group. Parents of Murdered Children is a group that is known all over the United States, probably all over the world. Parents of Murdered Children is well organized. They meet regularly. 
  •  HOGAN: They do what they say they're going to do. They have great supporters, too, money-wise. I'm just saying I feel like a lot of people may - maybe not, Ruth will tell I tell you sometimes they don't give that much, but because they're more established, I think that they probably reach a lot more people. 
  •  HOGAN: You know, she got the web, she got the people - they're just way more organized.Well, Ms. Johnson's group, the Unsolved Violent Crime Alert, they're still trying to get it off the ground. They don't really have a permanent place to meet. They cancel a lot, but they do go out - they do have a lot of candlelight vigils. 
  •  HOGAN: They do try to support each other like that, but they're not as organized as the Parents of Murdered Children.They've got their one location. Every third Thursday, they pretty much - they send out emails, they send out fliers, they remember your child's birthday, they remember - they have a lot more going because they're more organized. 
  •  HOGAN: Miss Ruth and Miss Carolyn, they are - that's just an organized group. They get national backing, while when you try to pull off and go on your own, it's a little different.It's probably a lot of need over here more, but they don't have a chapter in this area. 
  •  HOGAN: I'm not gonna say a Black area, but they don't have a chapter in this area of town. And there's a need for support on this end of town. A lot of people are not going to travel from Southeast going over there to Heights. They just - it's not accessible enough to them. 
  •  HOGAN: Now as far as emailing and stuff like that, that's the way I use the community.But do I get to go way over to the Heights every time - I don't even get to go. That was the first time when you saw me, I had been out there in about two years. But I love the group because they're so supportive. 
  •  HOGAN: They email me, they send me fliers, Mother's Day they send me cards and Kimis. They're just organized with it. They're really into it, and I like that about them. And when we had - they had a barbecue for Mother's Day, a mothers' night – mothers' day out. 
  •  HOGAN: And me and my daughter was able to go out there, and my grandkids.They're just organized more, which I think on this organization over here - the desire is there, but the organization is just not there. Can we get it there? Yes, we can, but it takes money. It takes money, and lots of money. It takes supporters. It takes backers. 
  •  HOGAN: So that's the differences there, because that's a well-known organization, and this is an organization trying to get off the ground.But is it needed? Yes, it is, cause we've got a lot of families in this community that have had violent crimes. A lot of them, a lot of unsolved murders, a lot of that. 
  •  HOGAN: A chapter on this side of town would be nice, rather than just one chapter over there. But money-wise - you know how things are. They may not can expand it like that. That's why she tried to start a chapter on this side, not a Parents of Murdered Children, but just a support group that's available on this side of town. 
  •  CRAFTS: And how often does this group meet here, would you say? 
  •  HOGAN: Which one? The - 
  •  CRAFTS: The one in your neighborhood. 
  •  HOGAN: We meet about - well, sometimes we are fortunate enough to have candlelight vigils sometimes twice a month, just depending on when the anniversary of that particular person. I'm gonna say we meet - we haven't even had the chance to meet - we were supposed to have a meeting here, but then they canceled it. 
  •  HOGAN: That's why I'm saying they're not organized and set up like they are with the other one.We know every third Thursday over there, they're going to have a meeting. With this group, we don't have a location.We don't have a set place to have our meetings, so I think that's why we - one time she - when I first was in the group they used to meet at a community center, and sometimes we can't meet there, so we don't have a permanent location. 
  •  HOGAN: We have to meet at each others house or one of the local churches. Sometimes my church will open up and let them have it in the fellowship hall or something like that. So we don't have a permanent location, so we just mainly talk over the phone and emails, and support each other at the candlelight vigils on the anniversary of those childrens' death. 
  •  HOGAN: That's all we do.But Carolyn and them, they go to court with you - they're just more organized. They go to court with you. They're more a group of people that are non-working - some of them are working, but I'm talking about the heads. They're more accessible to you. And that's what I like about them. The difference - so that's really the two differences. Any other questions? 
  •  CRAFTS: Yeah. When did this group in your neighborhood start? How long ago, would you say? 
  •  HOGAN: Actually, the group really started really about 5 years ago, because this lady was part of Carolyn's group at first. Her daughter's body was - her daughter was murdered about a year before my son. Her daughter's body was found decomposed in a field, no - actually, really right around the corner from where my son was murdered. 
  •  HOGAN: I don't know for sure if my son knew her daughter, but her daughter knew some of my son's friends. But I don't know for sure if my son knew her daughter or not. I don't know. But anyways, it kind of happened in the same area.And I knew this lady - the grandparent – I knew this lady's father. 
  •  HOGAN: They had a local business in this area of town. And my family had did business with them. They had something like a ice house or a community center where we would all meet up. So I knew the family indirectly. So she was the one who first told me about - because her daughter had been murdered a year before my daughter she was already going to the - over there, the Parents of Murdered Children. 
  •  HOGAN: So that's where I first met her. And so she was telling me how she was trying to get something started - a chapter or something started on this area of town where we wouldn't have to go so far over there. That's how we kind of started it out, not because it's black or white, because our organization - we have other races too, it's not just - but she felt like there was a need to have a southeast area chapter. 
  •  HOGAN: A southeast area support group on this side of town. And that's how it started. So when we first started out, I think it was maybe about ten families that was interested in being on this side of town. So we started meeting, we started grouping up. And then one while we fell off a little, because money wasn't coming in and we didn't have a permanent meeting place. 
  •  HOGAN: And see, that's how you lose your members, when you don't have really a permanent meeting place or permanent time. So what we did, we kept in touch via email like I do with you. We keep in touch via email, and we email each other, and when a candlelight - we're on Facebook, and when something is coming up - one of the candlelight vigils or something that's coming up - we just email each other, and we go out in support. 
  •  HOGAN: So no matter what area of town it is, whether it's with Carolyn - Carolyn emailing - or whether it's over here in this area, we just support each other, whichever one. So I'm kind of in between. I'd go either way. Either way it's a cause, and it's the same cause, I go. 
  •  HOGAN: And I'm kind of more at liberty to go to something cause I'm by myself. I'm single. I can go and support. But when I'm going way out there, I'm just on my own. Remember I told you, I'm going on my own out there in the dark or whatever, but I still like to support them because they have helped me a lot - emotionally, spiritually, everything. 
  •  HOGAN: So we're just both together either way. It's not a split, it's just that one is on this side of town and one is over there. And I just support either way. Either way - it's not that I'm against - she against Carolyn, cause we all still come together on the National Day of Remembrance. 
  •  HOGAN: Carolyn emailed us, and we still go out in support. It's the same cause. It's just different areas of town. Same cause. When Carolyn's having a - when they want to have a prayer vigil and I'm available, I still go out there too. That's what the prayer vigil is. 
  •  HOGAN: And those prayer vigils, they can be in any area of town, because these children have been murdered all over different places. And that's what this is. That's what it's about. So like when Carolyn - I think they had something for Thanksgiving, remember they were going to have that Thanksgiving thing - well, our group - this group over here - we still support that too. So it's not like a divided thing, it's just that we're all in this area of town, and we meet over here sometimes too. 
  •  CRAFTS: Can you talk a little bit more about how they've helped you - how Parents of Murdered Children has helped you emotionally and spiritually? You touched on it but just a little bit. 
  •  HOGAN: Well, Carolyn and - what's the other one's name? Carolyn and 
  •  CRAFTS: Ruth? 
  •  HOGAN: Ruth Eason. Yeah, Carolyn and Ruth, they - I just like them as - I went to one of the - right after my son died, I went to one of their meetings. And I just liked the warmth that we had, potlucks - you saw how we do. We have potluck dinners, and we get up and we talk about our children, and it's just a wonderful, warm support group, and I really, really like it. 
  •  HOGAN: It helps me when I go out there. It's just a support, just extra support, and I like it. And they always send me little Kimis, Kimis is little cards that they send you via email on key holidays. And I'll show you one of the Kimis that they sent me, I'll show you. I keep it on my computer. 
  •  HOGAN: And one night - and sometimes because I'm here by myself, sometimes I don't sleep all night. It's just that - I just don't sleep all night. Sometimes at 3 o'clock in the morning, I'm wide awake, and I get up and I go to the computer. So one morning I went to the computer right before Mothers' Day. 
  •  HOGAN: And I didn't know about these messages they send. So I went to this computer and it said 'I just sent you a Kimi for Mothers' Day'. So I didn't know what a Kimi was, so I looked on the computer, and this picture of my son just popped out on the computer, and it had on it "Happy Mothers' Day." It was eerie. 
  •  HOGAN: But still it was nice! It was like - I'm serious, at 3 o'clock in the morning, my son just jumped out on the computer, there were some little butterflies, and (laughing) it was funny. But I said, "Hm." And then I shed a tear, cause it was nice, but it was kind of scary at first. 
  •  HOGAN: And I called Ruth the next day, and I emailed my daughter. I told my daughter "Look at this Kimi that they sent me from Parents of Murdered Children," and my daughter, she loved it. She copied it and kept it and on her computer. She said, "Mom, did you print it out?" 
  •  HOGAN: So in other words, it's just little reminders to let us know that our loved one still matters - still matters to people. And they really stay on it. They send me email letters - you know those letters from Parents of Murdered Children on the anniversary of my son's death. They send - not just my son, but everybody's loved ones. 
  •  HOGAN: If they died in October, their names and birthdays are listed. Parents of Murdered Children, they have a video of my son, and when we go to the National Day of Remembrance, they show all the victims on this big screen. They let you know that's of importance. That's of importance. 
  •  HOGAN: Yes, they are a lot of support. And then we get some parents in there that just - that it just happened. And what better place can you be than with other parents that we've already been through it. We know what it feels like, and we can give emotional support to them. 
  •  HOGAN: So yes, it's important, yes it's very important. Then they have other family members there. They're looking for answers. They want to see how we got through it. So, yeah, it's wonderful support. Wonderful support. I love it. It is. And no matter what the whole world - the whole world forgets - we still got to support each other. 
  •  HOGAN: Because until it knocks on your door, you don't understand. You don't understand until it knocks on your door. I never thought about murder parents before it happened to me. I know I hear it on the news, but it's just out the window. But when it affects you, and when it's someone in your family it happens to you or them, then you're more keyed to it, you understand. 
  •  HOGAN: It's just like a child that's got cerebral palsy - if you don't have a child with cerebral palsy, you don't know what those people are going through. If you have never been through a loved one who had cancer, and you had to go through chemo with them, you don't know what it feels like until you go through it. 
  •  HOGAN: So that's the way it is with parents of murdered children. It's that we all had that one thing in common, that we have lost a child through a violent crime. These children didn't die of natural causes. These childrens' lives were taken. Some by gunshot, some decomposed, some ain't never been found, all kinds of situations. 
  •  HOGAN: And by them sharing, it helps the others of us that's been going through it. And then when they have the community leaders come out, like Andy Kahan some of the police officers and things, that see these things every day - they're out there in the streets. They see what we are going through. And you think it don't affect them? 
  •  HOGAN: They know that it's somebody's child or somebody's loved one or somebody's brother or sister. So, yeah, it has impact. Very much so. And it's very important to have them there for us. It is. It really is. So they make a difference for me. And others. Not just me, but just for others. 
  •  HOGAN: It's good to have a support group out there. And sometimes you - I'll say to myself, well, I just don't want to hear it tonight. And then sometimes, something tells me that, yeah, you do need to hear it. Sometimes it tells me, that's where you need to be. That's your calling, that you may be able to give a listening ear. 
  •  HOGAN: Some people say, "Well, how did you get through this? Do you ever forget?" Then you can say to them, as time goes on - you never forget, but as time go on, your wounds will heal. And it will heal. But you ain't never going to forget that person. You ain't never going to forget that night, that scene that you saw your child for the last time. 
  •  HOGAN: Just think, some of the people never have found bodies. Do you know those people? Their daughters and sons have been missing for years, and never found their bodies. So to me, at least I know where my son is. If I just want to, I can go to that cemetery and I can sit by his graveside for fifteen or twenty minutes if I want to. 
  •  HOGAN: And as time go on - I used to go out there every week, then every month. And then now, maybe twice - two or three times a year. You know, as time go on, it gets less and less where it hurts. But you don't forget. You never forget. But then again, what can you do just sitting out there every day. 
  •  HOGAN: I can be more productive helping somebody else. I can still be more productive doing something that's better, and that's to encourage somebody else along the way. So that's what it does for me. 
  •  CRAFTS: Can you talk a little bit about - you mentioned some of the community support you received, I think following your son's murder. But can you talk about how people in the community have responded to this throughout the years - how they respond to this and - just their response? 
  •  HOGAN: The community? 
  •  CRAFTS: The community, and not just people who have lost their children or loved ones to violent crime. 
  •  HOGAN: You're talking about other community people? 
  •  CRAFTS: Yeah, other community people. 
  •  HOGAN: Well, they got an old saying: that people are going to come all around you when it first happens, and then after awhile, there's nothing. I would love to see some of my son's friends continue to come by every now and then. 
  •  HOGAN: It would make me feel good if every now and then they would come by and say, "How are you doing? How's everything? If you need anything - " But usually people tend to - after the fact, they tend to just go away. They feel that you don't want to hear or talk about it anymore, but in reality, we still want to see people. 
  •  HOGAN: I still like to see people that knew him.But in reality people just stop coming. They don't come no more, they don't call no more, they don't - they just don't. They don't come anymore. They just feel like you got over it and life is back to normal, and they just don't talk about it. 
  •  HOGAN: Then every now and then you'll hear somebody say, "Well, did they find anybody yet?"and then I'll say, "No, they haven't found anybody. We're still looking."And sometimes it's like, 'Mm, they ain't found nobody yet?" but no, they haven't. Sometime will they - will they ever? 
  •  HOGAN: I don't know, but as of now, no, we don't know who murdered him. We don't. But I'm just saying sometimes people don't know what to say, so they just say, "You mean they ain't found nobody yet?"Nope, not yet. So people - they feel like you don't want to talk about it, so they don't say nothing. 
  •  HOGAN: They feel like, well, it might start her crying, I might upset her if we mention it, but most of the time they just don't say nothing anymore. They don't say nothing. 
  •  CRAFTS: So how often do you talk about your son outside of these support groups that you're a part of? 
  •  HOGAN: Well, my sisters and I - I have four sisters and we still talk about him and good times. We still talk about our children. It's probably not a week that goes by that we don't say something somewhere about him. 
  •  HOGAN: My son - his brother, I wish he was here, I wish we all were doing this interview with the family, not just me - you could get a take on how all of us are feeling - but my son will always come over with some kind of saying that he had, or what he would be doing if it was this time of the year, like getting ready for Christmas or birthdays, or how he would be in all of that, how he would show up to events the last one so he could make a grand appearance. 
  •  HOGAN: I don't know if that happens in your family, but there's always someone in the family show up late, and you say, "Oh, where are you coming from?" - that's what he was always doing. He always showed up late, the last one. But yeah, we still talk and have stories about him. 
  •  HOGAN: We talk about him every week, my son and I. And if you see, sometimes people, when they come here, they say, "Oh, she's still got her son's picture up." I keep his picture up all the time. Sometimes I talk to him. I say, "All is well today." Cause I feel like they still - like their spirits are still with us. 
  •  HOGAN: Even my husband. I let my husband know, "Oh, man, I had a rough day today." I say, "I sure wish you was here." And when my husband was sick - and my husband knew he was passing away, and that's two different types of death - the unexpected death is when somebody just take you like that, and then my husband, he knew he was - cancer was going to take him away. 
  •  HOGAN: And he said, "When I get up there, and I get to see LeDuke again, I'm going to tell him, man, you got out of here right before the gas prices went up!" That's how we talk about each other. "Man, you got out of here just before them - four dollars a gallon." 
  •  HOGAN: That's what he said he was going to tell my son when he got wherever he was going. And so then my son and I will be saying, "Ooh, man, you know Michael Jackson is up there with LeDuke now? So they're probably having a good time, Michael Jackson is up there with us!" That's how we just make fun, because there's a lot of legends that left this year. 
  •  HOGAN: It was a lot of people that left, and he was a Michael Jackson fan. So I bet he'd say, "Ooh, man, Michael Jackson is up here with us" and a bunch of other young people that went on. So that's how we keep laughing fun about it. But it was a guy came over here yesterday, one of LeDuke's friends, and he came by. 
  •  HOGAN: And he said to get the shoe size of the children of LeDuke, and he was going to make sure they all each had a gift for Christmas. That made my heart feel good, that even though they're now teenagers, they - one goes to school right here by me - the oldest one. 
  •  HOGAN: He's in eighth grade, now. The other one is in seventh grade, and the youngest one - my youngest grandson is autistic. And he was - what was he, four or five then - so it's been five - he's ten now, and progressing very well.I don't see him much. I wish I could have contact with my grandsons. 
  •  HOGAN: But their mothers either - well, they move on with other relationships, and sometimes they don't want him to have relationships - I don't think it's they don't want them to have - or they just move on with their lives and they don't have time anymore. 
  •  HOGAN: And it bothers me sometimes, cause they know us, and they act like they don't know us, but they don't keep a relationship with me. That hurts me sometimes, that they don't keep in contact. My oldest one, he calls me every week. I talked to him last night. But the other two - the other baby's nonverbal. He doesn't speak. 
  •  HOGAN: So I sent and email to his mother last week and just asked could I visit - come and visit. She hasn't responded back, but maybe she will. And I know I could just go over there, but I don't feel comfortable just going over there. I want them to invite me to come - say I'm welcome to come and visit with them. 
  •  HOGAN: And the other one, he lives on the other side of town. I don't even really know where he is. I know about where he is, but I don't have any contact with him. And every time I talk to him, I'd be telling - that's the one I was most close with. We had him since he was a baby. 
  •  HOGAN: He was here with us. But when I talk to him, I always say, "Well, come by. Call - just call me. Just, ‘Grandma, how are you doing,' or something." And so those kind of things are painful - makes it more painful. That's the only connection I have with him is through his children. And just think, some crime victims, they leave before they even have children. 
  •  HOGAN: So that part is kind of a little thorn in my side. But I do feel like when they do get a - be adult men - they will - hopefully they'll come and think about their grandmother and come. But this time I did call them yesterday, and I asked them for their clothing size. I hope that won't bring us back together because of that, but I'm hoping I get a call. 
  •  HOGAN: 'Cause teenagers, they like clothes. So maybe I'll get a call. I hate to say it like that, maybe I'll get a call now from them. I'm letting them know it's Christmastime; I want to get you something. Maybe I'll hear a little bit more from them. So we'll just wait and see on that one. So anything else? 
  •  CRAFTS: I just have one more question. What would you say to someone going through this - this has recently happened to them, that they've lost someone to violent crime. What would you say? What advice would you give them about how - ? 
  •  HOGAN: My thing would be - what I would say to anybody that's going through it - is get you a good support system. If you can't be with a group, preferably your family - but if you can't get family, if you have access to counseling, get counseling. 
  •  HOGAN: If you don't have access to counseling, because counseling can be very expensive - if you don't have medical insurance or anything with office counseling, I would say definitely get in a support group. Definitely get in a support group. And if you can talk about your loved one, continue to talk about them. Don't stop talking about them if it's in your heart. 
  •  HOGAN: And don't let other people feel that they can't talk about them. I tell my sisters all the time - I feel good when someone mentions LeDuke's name, or when they come by - "That was my buddy. That was mine." Anything that he did positive, I enjoy hearing now.And I will say to them, "Continue to be positive." And everybody grieves differently. 
  •  HOGAN: It might be a year, it might be six months. And then if they can't get a support group, they have some good literature out here that you can read about people that's been through crime - victims and grief, and stuff like that. There's some good books from Borders Books - you can go there, or to the library. 
  •  HOGAN: Get you some good reading on positive experiences with death, and I think that'll help you. But family and friends is the best if you have it. If you don't have it - even if you do have family and friends, they can't be with you 24/7. You might have family and friends, but when you start feeling that lonely time, then get in with a support group like Parents of Murdered Children and any other support groups. 
  •  HOGAN: I'm sure they've got others besides Parents of Murdered Children. They've got other grief organization that you can involved in. That's what I would say. And the most of all I would do, I would tell them to stay as close around family as you can. Don't isolate yourself. Stay close around people. 
  •  HOGAN: If you're not working, then volunteer. Do something to keep your mind occupied other than just keeping your mind focusing on that tragic day or that tragic incident, or even on your child. Sometimes I hear people say "Oh, my son," and they start talking about the event, not the person. 
  •  HOGAN: When I'm talking about LeDuke, I don't - sometime I'm going to put the event behind - furthest in my memory that I can - and just remember him as a person. That's what helps me. I don't focus on that event all the time. No, that's not good for you, and it's not healthy. I don't focus on that event. 
  •  HOGAN: I focus on what he did, the good - what he would want us to continue to do. I don't think he would want us just to be feeling sorry, and don't have no hope, and down-spirited all the time. I think he would want us to be up and continue to move on with life.And I think that's the biggest thing that you can do, because if you just keep consuming yourself with the grief, you can tear your health down. 
  •  HOGAN: You can be depressed, and you can be not fun to be around and stuff like that, so I think the best thing to do - get back to work. Get busy and stay busy all the time. And I think that you will find out that what you're going through all the time is not the worst thing in the world. It's not. It can be positive for you. 
  •  HOGAN: Not positive like saying, oh, that's good it happened, but positive - you can just pick up from it and learn some of those good things like I told you about. Money's not everything. Working all the time is not everything. Give back. Do some more things besides just worrying about you all the time. 
  •  HOGAN: Truly, I work with low-income families. I feel like I'm making a difference every day. Maybe to keep one of those young people from getting on the wrong side of the tracks. Sometimes these children never hear a kind word, or they never get to hear, "You can do it." 
  •  HOGAN: So that's what you can do, instead of focusing on that bad incident, keep knowing that you can still make a difference in somebody else's life. And then I think that you'll be all right. That's the way I feel. I go out every day, and I'm thinking, What can I do? Why can I be a blessing to someone else. 
  •  HOGAN: How can I not just be gloom and doom around the people that I'm with? I don't have that spirit.Some people tell you, that know me, they'll tell you, "Now you would never know that that happened to her, that she lost her husband and her son within a two-year period of time." 
  •  HOGAN: Because my husband would always tell me, "I want you to live life, and live life to the fullest." And do I miss him? Yes, I do. That was my buddy. Cause when LeDuke died, he was my support system. When he died - do you see anybody around here? My children can't be with me 24/7, so I have to encourage myself. 
  •  HOGAN: I have to trust that the Spirit or God says, "I will never leave you or forsake you," He ain't never gonna leave you. But then again, you can't just wallow in it, either. You've got to do something. And I think that's the best thing that people can do. 
  •  AMBROSINI-BACON: Is there anything else you'd like to say that we haven't asked you? 
  •  HOGAN: No, I think we covered everything. Watch Video 1of "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:2 of 2
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.

 

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