Friday, September 12, 2008

Its hard to believe

Four years ago tomorrow something happened in my family that rocked our worlds. The press release that follow explains the details that we uncovered bit by bit. I am putting this out there for you to look at, not to garner sympathy, but to help build awareness. I never thought things like this actually happened.

How has this changed me?
  • I can no longer watch any Law & Order or CSI or anything like that because it creeps me out and I think about this.
  • It was the year before Matt and I got married and it messed with my head about being able to trust the people that I loved.
  • I wrestle with forgiveness... as a Christ follower I do believe and advocate that individuals can and do change from the inside out, but in this case he didn't... and there were grave consequences... what is the balance between hope and restoration and invisible criminals?
  • I pray for those family members who were directly affected by this.
  • I am thankful for each day.
Florida Press Release – September 13, 2008

Friends and family of Michelle Lynn Jones, who was brutally killed by her uncle, Charlie Brandt, have started “The Invisible Criminals Website” in association with the Michelle Lynn Jones Foundation, . Michelle at 37 was a vibrant woman, an executive with the Golf Channel in Orlando, Florida, and a lifelong resident of Central Florida. She lived life to the fullest, loved her family and friends and was dearly loved in return.

Charlie Brandt fled the Florida Keys with his wife, Teri (Michelle’s aunt), when Hurricane Ivan threatened in 2004. On the night of September 13th, 2004 he brutally murdered both his wife, Teri, and his niece, Michelle, before taking his own life. He quickly became a suspect in at least two other homicides and investigators think he was likely a serial killer. Since that time, he has been convicted of both murders and there have been inquiries into others.

It was during the investigation that Sheriff Don Eslinger discovered in 1971, when Charlie Brandt was 13 years old, he had killed his pregnant mother, shot his father three times and attempted to kill her, while living in Ft Wayne, Indiana.. Charlie spent only one year in a mental facility before being released to his father, who chose to hide his first crime even within the family. The decision to release him the Ft Wayne Grand Jury recommended Charlie be monitored because they felt he was capable of doing it again. Due to Charlie’s Juvenile status he was never charged with a crime and his records were sealed.

One of the goals of the MLJ-Foundation is to advocate the passage of laws that will enter names of those who commit violent crimes, including juveniles, into one data bases accessible to all law enforcement.

The purpose of the MLJ Foundation is to:

Promote Personal Safety By Raising Public Awareness About Invisible Criminals In Our Communities Through:
- Public Education and Advocacy;
- Enhanced Education for health professionals and law enforcement professionals,
- Initiatives to enable law enforcement to conduct more comprehensive criminal investigations, as needed.

Seminole County Sheriff, Don Eslinger, Chief Investigator Rob Hemmert, and investigator Bob Jaynes have been relentless in their investigation since the night of discovering Michelle and Teri’s murders. In doing so, Hemmert has worked with other agencies and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to shape a database that keeps track of all Violent Criminals, REGARDLESS OF AGE.

After significant efforts, the database is now fully operational through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement in Tallahassee. The State of Florida is divided into seven regions with an agent assigned to each region (Orlando actually has two agents).

Central Florida is fortunate to have the leadership of these law enforcement professionals who are making a positive contribution to promote the safety in their communities and now the State. It is the MLJ-Foundations hope that the Florida database will be such a valuable tool that other states will implement it as well.

The MLJ-Foundation hopes the community will use that the Invisible Criminal Website as a place to promote dialogue and inform people about further efforts to keep our communities safe from potential invisible criminals.

On September 13th at 8:00 am, there will be a Memorial Mass at The Church of the Annunciation on Montgomery Road. There will also be a letter to our Michelle in the Memorial Section of the Orlando Sentinel.


Anonymous said...

it still freaks me out that we spent the night with terry and charlie in the keys.. with you and Corey as little children...i just don't understand how...why...

i love you, mama

Julie said...

How were you related, Traci? I don't know if you said. That is sad and pretty shocking that no one is removed from this stuff happening. Thanks for sharing.