Connie Sheely – President
Connie Sheely became involved with POMC following the murder of her brother, Joel Holbrook. Joel was found murdered in his home in Kansas City, Missouri in 1999. His case remains unsolved. Connie found POMC to be a tremendous help in dealing with her brother’s murder. She values the importance of POMC, its members and advocating for other survivors. She has shared her experience with community groups, promoting public awareness of POMC and has spoken to prison inmates on victim impact.
Connie is the Chapter Leader of the Southeast Minnesota Chapter of POMC, has served on the POMC Conference Planning Committee since 2014, the majority of those years as conference co-chair, and is on the National POMC Board of Trustees. Connie has served on the POMC National Board of Trustees since 2015. She was the Board treasurer for several years and was elected president effective January 1, 2021.
Connie grew up in Nebraska and moved to Rochester, MN in 1997 where she currently resides with her husband, Mike.
Lori King – Vice President
Lori King is a Victim Advocate for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation & Correction, Office of Victim Services. Before working with ODR&C she held the first director’s position in 1996 at the Fayette County Victim Witness program in the prosecutor’s office. Lori was instrumental in starting “My Sister’s House” a Domestic Violence Shelter in Washington C.H., in Fayette County, Ohio named in memory of her sister Geneva Ann O’Dell. Her involvement was a promise kept to her sister who was murdered in Fayette County on August 12, 1994. She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Management from the historical “Wilberforce University”, Wilberforce, Ohio. She is a member of the Greater Cincinnati Area Chapter of Parents Of Murdered Children as well as the Central Ohio Chapter of POMC. Lori is a state registered Advocate through the Ohio Advocate Network, OAN and a Nationally Credentialed Victim Advocate through the National Organization for Victim Assistance, NOVA. She holds the designation as a Domestic Violence Intervention and Homicide Intervention Specialist. Lori is also a member of Ohio Victim Witness Association, OVWA. Lori was elected to the POMC National Board of Trustees in 2015.
Martha Lasher-Warner – Secretary
My daughter, Liza Ellen Warner, at the age of 29 years was murdered by her husband on October 1, 2004, at her home in Princetown, Schenectady County, New York. He then took his own life. When they married, he took our last name instead of Liza taking his last name. He claimed it was because he did not know his father well when in reality, we have since learned that he had a history of domestic violence in Texas and had served 7 ½ years in Arkansas for the attempted murder of a police officer while running a roadblock after committing an armed robbery.
At the time of her murder, Liza was in the process of ending their five year marriage. They met when she was just 17 years old and he was 29. Our family was not aware that control is a red flag for domestic abuse even though we never saw any signs of physical abuse until the last month of her life.
Since my daughter’s murder, I have become a strong advocate in local domestic violence circles. I am passionate about helping women in abusive relationships and also feel that education is a necessary tool in the prevention of domestic abuse. I have founded a not-for-profit corporation in memory of Liza “Family and Friends of Liza Ellen Warner Association, Inc.” which will provide education and awareness to students at the middle and high school levels and financial support to local domestic violence agencies. My goal is to reach as many students at the middle and high school level by telling Liza’s story in detail. I am hoping that as many students as possible will hear her story and are impacted enough by her untimely death to recognize the signs and red flags of domestic abuse.
I attended my first POMC meeting about 6 weeks after my daughter’s murder. I remember that the group there understood and really knew how I felt and there were no words such as “The pain will pass”, “You will get better” and “It takes time.” I could see that there would be a light at the end of this tunnel and that one day I would be able to smile and laugh again without guilt. I am now serving as the Albany, New York Parents Of Murdered Children Chapter Leader.
Cathy Familathe – Treasurer
In 1988 I received the phone call that no family member or friend wants to get. The call was telling me that my nephew Anthony had been shot and that I needed to get to the hospital. My mind told me and my heart hoped – “ok he’s been shot; the doctors will fix him and he’ll be okay”. That wasn’t the case. The doctors didn’t know that I was in the room and I heard them talking and they were saying that there was nothing they could do. That was Friday night and on Sunday, February 21, 1988 we took him off life support. He was just a little over 18 years old and he had all of his life ahead him. Of course, all of you know what this does to you and as for me I had no husband and no children at the time. All my nieces and nephews felt like they were mine since I baby sat them, fed them, clothed them, and attended all their school and sports events.
My sister-in-law, Anthony’s mother, needed some support to deal with the loss of her son. We searched and we found a group who met in Rancho Palos Verdes and provided support to survivors of homicide victims. It was Parents Of Murdered Children. We went for a couple of years and the ability to be in a room with others who lost someone they loved to homicide was such a help and comfort to my sister-in-law and me. After a while the Leader of the Chapter could not continue so the Chapter closed.
Then in 2010 my family lost another member, my cousin Brandon Hansen, and if that wasn’t enough, in 2011, one more cousin was murdered, Gary Moreno (I recently found out that I have another cousin who was murdered, Tesha Gutierrez). All of them were young and should have been given their chance to go through life, find spouses and have children and grandchildren and fulfill their dreams. In the case of my nephew, Anthony’s murderer, after 6 parole hearings, was released this past October 2020 after 32 years (which will never be enough for us).
After the murder of my two cousins and going through the court system and trials, Amanda, aunt of Brandon, realized that there was such a need for support for families like ours. In March of 2012 we were approved by National Parents Of Murdered Children to start the Los Angeles Chapter. We have been providing support to many families from all over Los Angeles County.
As time went on, I thought about the contacts with our elected officials in my state and Washington, DC that I have and how I could advocate for victims and survivors. I thought that joining the National Board of Trustees would be just another step in helping not only survivors in my state, but hopefully allow me to help more survivors who come to Parents Of Murdered Children for support. I wish that none of us had to have this type of group, but we do and as long as I am physically and mentally able to participate, I will. I pray that God keeps me healthy and strong so that I and others can continue this work.
Leslie Boone has worked and volunteered with crime victims over three decades in various capacities and in a broad range of settings. She has two degrees: a B.S. in Psychology and a degree as an Allied Healthcare professional. She traveled extensively and lived abroad due to her husband’s military career. Her educational background includes courses and specialized training on trauma, neuroanatomy, gross anatomy, and victim advocacy.
It was early in life that her family experienced the killing of her grandparents, on Christmas Day, as a drunk driver altered the course of many lives. Decades later, when her twin sister was run over multiple times by a vehicle in a domestic violence attack, the family would experience the judicial system. She endeavors to understand the impact of crime on victims as well as those that work as first responders, health care providers and victim advocates. Her life experiences as a military spouse enabled her to volunteer in many settings with victims of crime; military members as well as families and victims from various countries and cultures.
Leslie has received training through the National Organization for Victim Assistance, and she has graduated the NOVA Victims Assistance Academy, and state academy. Leslie previously wrote letters for the anniversary note program. She also volunteers with Victims’ Rights Arkansas, a grassroots group that promotes educating people about victims’ rights and standing for victims through enforceable victims’ rights. Leslie is a trainer for the HOPE Suicide Prevention for Crime Victims.
Colleen Fernald Small
My name is Colleen Fernald Small. I became involved with POMC when my sister Amber Lynne Fernald, was murdered on June 10, 2014. Amber was murdered by an ex-boyfriend in the middle of the night, in her home. Her murderer broke in and stabbed her to death in front of her 3 young children. I am currently the Treasurer of the Albany New York Chapter of POMC and truly believe that without the support of these wonderful people in my group, I would not be where I am today. POMC and its supportive nature has helped me so much with my grief and loss. It has helped keep me grounded and given me support that only other Homicide survivors could understand. I am a better Mother, Aunt, and Person because of this support.
Beckie Miller served as Chapter Leader of the Phoenix, Valley of the Sun Chapter of Parents Of Murdered Children, Inc. (POMC) from January 1993 to January 2021. When first elected as Chapter-Leader it was only fifteen months after the murder of her eighteen-year-old son, Brian, who was robbed and shot to death in October 1991. She is also mom to Christie and Kimberlie, grandma to Brandon and Dillon, and wife of nearly fifty-years to Don.
She has served on the board of Arizona Voice for Crime Victims since its founding and is current Vice-President and is also a member of Arizona Coalition for Victim Services serving as a past Vice-Chair and Secretary. She was a member of the Arizona Attorney General’s Victims’ Rights Committee.
Beckie facilitated the POMC annual “Courage to Grieve” weekend retreats since 2001 in Arizona. She co-chaired three National POMC Conferences in 2000, 2006, and, again in 2012, and has facilitated numerous Mother’s Grief workshops, Couples Surviving Grief, and Courage to Grieve workshops at POMC National Conferences. She has won several personal awards and recognitions for her work with POMC and crime victims including the Governor’s “Triumph Over Tragedy” award and Arizona’s most prestigious volunteer award “The Hon Kachina,” as well as numerous chapter awards. Beckie is a published writer of numerous stories on her son’s murder, traumatic grief, survivor issues, and even “slice-of-life” humorous vignettes and poetry. She authored the poem “The Murder Wall.”
Elected to the POMC National Board of Trustees in 2014, Beckie hopes to now be an effective voice for survivors at the national level bringing her experience running a chapter for 28 years and understanding the issues facing survivors of a homicide victim.
Carolee Brooks Hildenbrandt
My son, David, was murdered in an attempted robbery in a bar in Midtown Manhattan on August 29th, 1991. Two others were shot and wounded. The murderer was an escaped prisoner who was featured on America’s Most Wanted just 3 months before. The NY police arrested him quickly that same night.
About a year later he was convicted of David’s death and sentenced – as the judge announced “your parole officer hasn’t even been born yet”. I was alerted to the Long Island POMC group and joined quickly and realized this was the place for me.
After about 10 years I moved to the Queens Chapter and became Chapter Leader for about 10 years and am now the Secretary. I have produced the Chapters Newsletters and worked with the Queens DA Office to help sensitize new DA’s to working with Crime Victims. I am a nurse by profession and have led many groups including a Widows group. Attending the National Conference every year is part of my healing process.
Peg (Margaret) Kerouac
Board of Trustees member, Peg Kerouac, has been a member since 2003. She joined as the spouse of a sibling survivor. As a counselor of victims and significant support to a survivor, Peg advocated for POMC to recognize parents “and other” survivors of homicide victims. After the murder of her brother-in-law, she served as counseling consultant and co-author of Aftermath: In the Wake of Murder, to try to help guide others through a common journey. Peg is known by many of our members, through her workshops, other contributions to POMC, service and regular attendance at our national conferences. Forty years in professional counseling, research and education has led to her work with various types of trauma survivors, like those surviving the traumatic experience of murder, and all that follows in its wake. Peg provides telephone support, has been a chapter leader, and guest speaker in events honoring victims and their survivors. Parents [that took the lead] and the many others like Peg are here to honor all loved ones in their passing while you represent your loved one’s life and learn ways to cope with the unimaginable loss to your family.
My daughter, Diamond Christina Lewis, at the age of 22 years, was murdered by her two month old daughter’s father on April 21, 2016, at her apartment in Merrillville, Indiana. After he killed Diamond, two female accomplices became involved to help him cover up everything. He is now serving 72 1/2 years for murder in addition to five other felonies. The Prosecutor decided not to charge the two females.
I got involved with the Chicago Area Chapter of POMC six months after the death of my daughter Diamond. I stand proudly today due to the peace and comfort that I received from this chapter.
I’m a POMC note writer and Contact Person from the great state of Indiana. I’m in court every week providing help and support for victims and survivors.
Harley Feldman has a long career in technology development and sales. On February 17, 2015, his 31-year-old daughter, Allison, was murdered in her home in Scottsdale, Arizona. Allison was a very sweet girl, was a Burn Specialist and had many friends from work and in her personal life. Her loss has had a devastating impact on the family.
Allison’s case was solved using Familial DNA Search (FS) which matches family DNA to help solve crimes. FS was not legal in Arizona when Allison’s case was being analyzed. He worked with people in the legislature and the Arizona Attorney and Governor to make the technology legal in the state. Allison’s case was the first to use the FS technology, and her murderer was found. The fact that her case was solved was heartening to Harley and his family even though Allison’s loss was very difficult.
Harley has become the Coordinator for the West Suburban Grief Coalition, the largest grief group in the Twin Cities. Coordinator means that Harley finds weekly speakers for the coalition and is a facilitator for the Child Loss Group within the coalition.
Harley believes that he can help people who have suffered the loss of their child either through helping them with FS in their states or through personal thoughts and strategies with POMC.
James “Jay” Gorski
My 30-year-old son, David was murdered on December 23, 2016. Within a matter of a couple months, I along with my wife began to experience the support of POMC when we started attending the monthly meetings of the DuPage County (IL) and Beyond Chapter. What I found was a group of individuals who were compassionate, supportive, and understanding of my situation as my family and I embarked on our grief journeys and our journey through the criminal justice system. The compassion, support and understanding I encountered at the local chapter carried over to my participation in a POMC grief retreat as well as attending POMC’s Annual Conferences. I believe in “paying it forward” and have taken my experience as a survivor of a homicide victim to 1) author/co-author a couple of papers dealing with victim impact statements and the treatment of victims by members of the criminal justice system and 2) speak at a local event during National Crime Victims Week.