/Oklahoma woman uses her trauma to create support group for people who lost loved ones to homicide – KOCO Oklahoma City

Oklahoma woman uses her trauma to create support group for people who lost loved ones to homicide – KOCO Oklahoma City


It’s a club nobody wants to be in and a bond everyone would rather not share, but everyone who has ever lost a family member to homicide shares a connection that is impossible for others to understand. An Oklahoma City woman is using her trauma to help others by leading a group unlike any other and providing a path to healing.”I came to the group after my case was finished,” Lauren Layman said. “My district attorney told me, ‘Hey, you probably need to talk to some like-minded people like you.'”Layman’s great-grandmother was raped and beaten to death in 1983 in Geary. The case didn’t look like it was going anywhere until Layman took it upon herself to make sure Ola Kirk wasn’t forgotten.”Her case was the oldest-named case they were working on,” Layman said.After decades without an arrest, Layman hit a roadblock.”They were working on it, but nobody could really tell me anything,” she said.The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation couldn’t legally talk to Layman about the case, so she helped change the law. Working hand in hand with the U.S. Marshals, the Blaine County District Attorney’s Office and other agencies, Layman’s persistence paid off.”We were running out of evidence to test,” she said. “Seriously, the last test came in days before he was going to be released.”An arrest and charge in the case were made, but the alleged killer died of a heart attack before he went to trial.”It is quite honestly the cliffhanger to a season-ending of a show that gets canceled,” Layman said. “I don’t know how to explain any better than that. The bad guy is about to get it, and they cancel the show. I just felt robbed.”Layman put her screams, her fears and her frustrations in what she calls her “closure box.” But she felt called to do more for people in similar situations, so she created the Oklahoma Homicide Survivors Support Group.”They’ve gone through the process, and they kind of help explain what happens, what you’re feeling is normal,” Layman said.She said the unique grief and intimate view of the legal system are things you can’t grasp unless you’ve lost a loved one to violence.”That’s really our big focus, is to let people know we’re out there, to let people know there’s a place where they can come and talk to people who went through what they’re going through,” Layman said.She calls this a communication gap. Families want answers that investigators often can’t provide for fear of jeopardizing an arrest.”As a victim, I took my great-grandmother’s stuff,” Layman said. “I wanted to show them that she’s a person. This is a life that you’re supposed to be working on solving.”It’s a problem agencies like the OSBI are working to solve. They’ve added two victim services coordinators to give victims any information they can, a service that didn’t exist when Layman was seeking justice.”We’re kind of an easy outreach liaison for those folks to reach out to if they have questions, in general, about what’s going on in their case, they have information they want to pass on to their agent,” OSBI victim advocate Christy Penney Pata said.The advocates answer questions and help find assistance with things like funeral costs.”Why does this have to happen, and what do I do? I don’t know what to do. Where do I go? Who do I talk to? What do I do next?” Pata said. “Often with crimes, there’s so many different kinds of financial burdens that start to pile up.”Pata wants victims and survivors to know they’re not forgotten.”I care about them, and I want them to know that. And the agents really care about them, too,” Pata said. “Those things are never off their minds. They often live in those communities.”She owes her role at the OSBI to Layman’s work and the homicide support group.”The fact that they went from just a couple of people meeting 15 or 20 years ago to now, they’re their own 501c3. It’s just incredible, and I’m so proud of them,” Pata said.Layman said there’s still plenty of work to do.”This is my ending. I didn’t get the ending that I wanted, but it’s an ending that led me on a path that is still going,” Layman said.People who want to learn more about the group can find information here.

It’s a club nobody wants to be in and a bond everyone would rather not share, but everyone who has ever lost a family member to homicide shares a connection that is impossible for others to understand.

An Oklahoma City woman is using her trauma to help others by leading a group unlike any other and providing a path to healing.

“I came to the group after my case was finished,” Lauren Layman said. “My district attorney told me, ‘Hey, you probably need to talk to some like-minded people like you.'”

Layman’s great-grandmother was raped and beaten to death in 1983 in Geary. The case didn’t look like it was going anywhere until Layman took it upon herself to make sure Ola Kirk wasn’t forgotten.

“Her case was the oldest-named case they were working on,” Layman said.

After decades without an arrest, Layman hit a roadblock.

“They were working on it, but nobody could really tell me anything,” she said.

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation couldn’t legally talk to Layman about the case, so she helped change the law. Working hand in hand with the U.S. Marshals, the Blaine County District Attorney’s Office and other agencies, Layman’s persistence paid off.

“We were running out of evidence to test,” she said. “Seriously, the last test came in days before he was going to be released.”

An arrest and charge in the case were made, but the alleged killer died of a heart attack before he went to trial.

“It is quite honestly the cliffhanger to a season-ending of a show that gets canceled,” Layman said. “I don’t know how to explain any better than that. The bad guy is about to get it, and they cancel the show. I just felt robbed.”

Layman put her screams, her fears and her frustrations in what she calls her “closure box.” But she felt called to do more for people in similar situations, so she created the Oklahoma Homicide Survivors Support Group.

“They’ve gone through the process, and they kind of help explain what happens, what you’re feeling is normal,” Layman said.

She said the unique grief and intimate view of the legal system are things you can’t grasp unless you’ve lost a loved one to violence.

“That’s really our big focus, is to let people know we’re out there, to let people know there’s a place where they can come and talk to people who went through what they’re going through,” Layman said.

She calls this a communication gap. Families want answers that investigators often can’t provide for fear of jeopardizing an arrest.

“As a victim, I took my great-grandmother’s stuff,” Layman said. “I wanted to show them that she’s a person. This is a life that you’re supposed to be working on solving.”

It’s a problem agencies like the OSBI are working to solve. They’ve added two victim services coordinators to give victims any information they can, a service that didn’t exist when Layman was seeking justice.

“We’re kind of an easy outreach liaison for those folks to reach out to if they have questions, in general, about what’s going on in their case, they have information they want to pass on to their agent,” OSBI victim advocate Christy Penney Pata said.

The advocates answer questions and help find assistance with things like funeral costs.

“Why does this have to happen, and what do I do? I don’t know what to do. Where do I go? Who do I talk to? What do I do next?” Pata said. “Often with crimes, there’s so many different kinds of financial burdens that start to pile up.”

Pata wants victims and survivors to know they’re not forgotten.

“I care about them, and I want them to know that. And the agents really care about them, too,” Pata said. “Those things are never off their minds. They often live in those communities.”

She owes her role at the OSBI to Layman’s work and the homicide support group.

“The fact that they went from just a couple of people meeting 15 or 20 years ago to now, they’re their own 501c3. It’s just incredible, and I’m so proud of them,” Pata said.

Layman said there’s still plenty of work to do.

“This is my ending. I didn’t get the ending that I wanted, but it’s an ending that led me on a path that is still going,” Layman said.

People who want to learn more about the group can find information here.

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