- Associated Press - Friday, October 3, 2014

GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) - On Oct. 1, like clockwork, staff members from the Women’s Crisis Support Team show up with silhouettes called Silent Witnesses for downtown store windows.

Sandi Crowder of Sandi’s Candies is waiting for them - and for the one she’s “adopted,” Savanna Albertson.

Albertson, of Wolf Creek, was murdered in southeast Grants Pass on June 16, 2010, at age 17 by her boyfriend, who is now serving a life sentence. She is one of 44 documented victims whose lives were taken by domestic violence since 1970 in Josephine County.

Eleven of those have Silent Witness silhouettes that are put up each year for the month of October, Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

The team also plans a second showing of 44 purple flags, each representing a victim, on the Josephine Courthouse lawn throughout the month. Those should be up by today.

And finally, on Tuesday at 2:30 p.m., the public is invited to the courthouse steps for a few words, a moment of silence and a tolling of bells to remember the victims.

“Newman Methodist church across the street will ring the bell 44 times. Last year was the first year we did it and it was really emotional,” says Amy Harboldt, one of the team’s educators, along with Ray Dinkins.

Last year’s bells and moment of silence was a trial event, Harboldt says. It was so moving, they’ve decided to let the public know, “to have more people come witness it,” Dinkins says.

As they put up the Silent Witnesses, Crowder says she is a huge supporter of the team and its work. Last year when she hosted Albertson’s silhouette, the slain teenager’s mother came in to thank Crowder.

“We met her, and it was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done,” Crowder recalls. This year she asked for Albertson’s Silent Witness by name.

The Great Northwest Music Company, Tierra Del Sol, Elegance and La Bella Casa are also hosting Silent Witnesses this year.

Crowder and Harboldt are hoping to expand the number for next year with some donations for the project.

“We always put them up in pairs. They never stand alone,” Dinkins says. “They suffered in silence and often died in silence, so this is how we honor them.”

Albertson’s companion Silent Witness is Caitlyn Strausser of Wolf Creek. Strausser was killed in 2009 at age 20 by her boyfriend, who is serving a 10-year sentence. At trial, Albertson was a witness against him, thus joining the two in another way.

“Domestic violence occurs 365 days a year as a private war behind closed doors,” says Krisanna Albrecht, the team’s executive director.



Women’s Crisis Support Team at www.wcstjoco.org or at 541-476-3877. The 24-hour hotline is 541-479-9349.


Information from: Daily Courier, https://www.thedailycourier.com

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