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December 15, 2009

Let's never forget her name...

In the quiet hours, somewhere after prayers and before dropping off to sleep, I’d think of Debra Houser and her family. I never met them, but having a 9-year-old son of my own, I couldn’t help but think of that child and how lost he must feel not knowing where his mother was as each night grows colder and further from the day his life changed forever. I’d think of her while doing chores and wonder who might find her, would it be soon and would her murderer be able to be punished to the fullest extent without her body as proof of the crime. I would think of law enforcement officers and how I hoped God would speak to them and guide them to her. I felt sadness when they said they’d have to stop looking for her – but I hoped they weren’t telling the whole story…that they’d still keep looking.

And it all finally happened today.

I received a phone call this morning confirming that at last, her body had been found by searchers. Acting on a tip they received Monday, officials searched a stream near CR 200 South and discovered her there. Neighbors had seen her ex-husband’s truck in that vicinity on November 17. Her body was found undisturbed, no evidence of trauma immediately apparent. An autopsy will be completed tomorrow. A press conference was held this afternoon and the details were made known to a concerned public who, along with her family, has been waiting for her to be brought home.

It’s all so horrible and terrible, a nightmare for that family. But there is a little comfort in knowing they can now begin to deal with the entirety of this tragedy. They can hold a funeral, they can begin to fully grieve. Her children will know where she is – though it is certainly not where anyone wants her to be. The community as a whole can begin to process what has happened here. I believe there are many, those who knew her and many who didn’t, who have been drawn in by this story and who want to see justice served and who want to support the family who has lost someone they love.

In my lifetime, I have known the names of four women who’ve lost their lives to domestic violence in our community. Most of these tragedies happened while I was a much younger child…but I still remember what happened and how those tragedies hurt those families.

There is no way to undo the wrong that has happened here, but I think we can all be a part of the solution in not forgetting Debra Houser’s name – or the names of other domestic violence victims. We must remain resolute to get involved in situations where we suspect domestic violence, whether that is comfortable for us or not. That may involve providing resourceful information to direct people toward help. That may cause us to be a shoulder to cry on or that we might make ourselves available, under cover of darkness, to drive someone we don’t know to a shelter far, far away. These are not easy things to think about, but if we remember the pain of this situation – then we’ll also remember how much we don’t want another family to lose a loved one to senseless anger and violence.

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