- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 31, 2000

The parents of Kevin Shifflett, the 8-year-old boy fatally stabbed as he played outside his great-grandparents' house in Alexandria, Va., last spring, donated $25,000 of their son's memorial fund yesterday to a national organization that helps locate missing children.

Tammy and Arthur Shifflett made the donation to the Alexandria-based National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, where a resource center in Kevin's name will help prosecutors and other lawyers working on cases involving violent crimes against children.

"Kevin Shifflett's case will now serve as a permanent reminder to prosecutors across this country of the need to be vigilant, and do everything to protect America's children," said Ernie Allen, the center's president.

Kevin, a third-grader at Mount Vernon Community School, was slashed and stabbed to death on the afternoon of April 19 as he played on the front lawn of his great-grandparents' house in the Del Ray community of Alexandria.

After a six-month police investigation, an Alexandria grand jury on Oct. 4 indicted Gregory Devon Murphy, an ex-convict, on a capital murder charge in Kevin's slaying.

Murphy, 29, is awaiting a Feb. 5 trial in Alexandria Circuit Court. If convicted, he could get the death penalty.

In one of their few public appearances since Kevin's death, the Shiffletts fought back tears during yesterday's introduction of the center, which will bear a bronze plaque that features Kevin's photograph.

Kevin's sister Katie, 12, comforted her great-grandfather, Thomas Taylor, who began to cry when he saw Kevin's black-and-white photograph on the plaque.

Mr. Shifflett thanked residents and members of the business community for their support. The community had raised an estimated $176,000, all of which went to a fund to help catch Kevin's killer.

"I can't tell you enough from my heart that we couldn't have done it without your support," Mr. Shifflett said as his wife sat beside him fighting back tears.

As his two other children watched from the audience, Mr. Shifflett told reporters he was reminded by someone after Kevin's death that "there's always something good that comes out of something bad."

Mr. Shifflett said he started believing that when he toured the new center three weeks ago. "I felt good inside," he said. "And I could see Kevin's face saying, 'Dad, this is something good.' "

With the Shiffletts' donation, the center has hired two full-time former prosecutors, Daniel Armagh and Susan Kalp, who will provide legal assistance to those seeking help and advice on child-related cases, Mr. Allen said.

The center will add a third paralegal and two more administrative assistants to staff the facility, Mr. Allen said.

"It's an act of real courage and real leadership of what the Shiffletts have done for us," Mr. Allen said. "Kevin's name will live on and will touch the lives of other children who are in need."

Alexandria Mayor Kerry J. Donley said Kevin's slaying has made the community stronger and taught people the "true value of life."

"So many people in our community were touched by Kevin's tragic death," Mr. Donley said. "To create a legacy in his name at one of the nation's most respected child advocacy organizations seems like a natural fit."

Since Kevin's death, the Shiffletts have made numerous donations in Kevin's name. Out of the $176,000, they gave $10,000 to Mount Vernon Community School and $10,000 to the Alexandria Police Youth Camp. They also set up a $7,000 scholarship fund for the children of Alexandria Police Sgt. George Burnam, whose wife died of leukemia while he worked on Kevin's case last spring, said Lynn Hampton, chairman of the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce.

Ms. Hampton said the chamber has set aside $100,000 as reward money in the case. Another $25,000 has been committed to NCMEC. If the reward money is not used, the chamber will distribute the remainder of the funds to the same organizations.

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