Walking in their footsteps

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By CHRIS COLLINS

Of the Baker City Herald

The 153 pairs of high heels, snow boots, slippers and other shoes lining the sidewalk in the 1800 block of Main Street Tuesday memorialized Oregonians who have died because of domestic violence since 1993.

The shoes represent not only the actual domestic violence victims, but also the children, law enforcement officers and suicide victims who killed themselves after killing someone else, said Stacey Jones, MayDay executive director.

The display was part of MayDay's Empty Shoes Project during Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

andquot;Through this exhibit we hope to raise public awareness that domestic violence is a serious problem that touches everyone's life,andquot; a poster accompanying the display stated.

The poster pictures an actual domestic violence victim who was photographed in New York City in a park where she ran to hide from her batterer, Jones said.

Among the 153 Oregon murder victims is a policeman Jones worked with as a reserve officer in Portland. He recalled how his friend was killed while pursuing a batterer who shot and injured his girlfriend's 7-year-old son before fleeing. The officer was shot after a car chase and foot pursuit. The suspect later was taken into custody.

Included in Thursday's display of empty shoes were other stories of how the victims were killed. Names were changed to protect the privacy of the families involved.

Here are three of those stories:

oandquot;Barbara Smith was abducted at gunpoint from her home by her ex-boyfriend, then shot to death and hit by traffic on Interstate 5. The murderer was found several days later; he had committed suicide.andquot;

oandquot;Floyd Martin was shot and killed by police during a domestic violence assault against his estranged wife. Witnesses reported that he had tried to strangle her in the car, then pulled her out of the car and dragged her to the house. He was on the porch, standing over her with a gun to her head, when the police shot and killed him. His wife had a restraining order against him at the time.andquot;

oandquot;Tina Lewis was a nursing student, an avid reader, and described by her friends as bubbly and sweet. Only July 10, she became involved in an argument with her boyfriend, Robert Brown, when she tried to end the relationship. Brown was convicted of manslaughter for strangling her to death and was sentenced to 14 years in prison.andquot;

The 153 murders over the past 10 years include Karen Tugman and her friend, Sid Stratos, who died in Baker City on July 29, 1998. Both were shot to death by Tugman's estranged husband, Mallory Tugman, at Karen's Baker City home. Mallory Tugman pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated murder and is serving two consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole.

Although the MayDay staff has been pleased with the increased awareness generated by events scheduled over the past month, Jones believes more needs to be done to bring the problem of domestic violence to the community's attention.

andquot;We're concerned about what seems to be apathy and a general feeling that it's somebody else's problem,andquot; he said.

During the Pledge to End Domestic Violence Project, MayDay had hoped to sponsor full-page ads in the Baker City Herald and The Record-Courier listing names of people who had pledged their support and donated $10 to the cause. Those ads were canceled for lack of funding, Jones said.

Of 750 requests for contributions placed in stores, social service agencies and other locations throughout the county, MayDay received just seven responses.

andquot;When I questioned people about it, the general attitude was 'somebody else will do it. It's not something I really need to get involved in,'andquot; Jones said.

But community members must get involved to help victims, he said.

andquot;Statistically speaking, three or four people they know have been or are being affected by domestic violence.andquot;

13007927
The Baker City Herald
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