Florida Parents of Murdered Children ‘are hurting just like the parents in Parkland’

Thaddeus Biglow, 29, left home to run an errand on Valentine’s Day evening last year, but he never returned. Police found him collapsed three doors from his house with a bullet in his back.

His mom, Ora Austin, suddenly found herself in a world she had only briefly imagined earlier that day when she posted on Facebook mourning the 17 people killed in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. Her son was now gone, but unlike the Parkland families, there was no national attention for her pain.

“I felt hurt and very saddened over the fact that my son’s story did not hit the media,” she said. “If the story had gotten some media attention it could have been solved right now.”

On Thursday, the anniversary of both murderous events, Austin stood with a dozen other parents — both in solidarity with the grieving Parkland families and to demand action on behalf of their own slain kids.

“What we’re asking for is for all of our children to be remembered today, for all of our children to be valued today,” said Hilton Napoleon III, an attorney who represents some of the parents, at a news conference in West Little River, on the exact spot where the body of a 43-year-old man was found stuffed in a car trunk Tuesday.

“They are hurting just like the parents in Parkland,” he said. “They don’t receive the same type of attention.”

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Grieving mothers Debryon Murray, 47, left, consoles Omorose Bulter, 35, as members of Florida Parents of Murdered Children, concerned citizens, and local police officers stood together in remembering the first anniversary of the Marjory Stone Douglas mass shooting in solidarity with Parkland Kids, Pray for Parkland Parents on Thursday, February 14, 2019. Annaliese Balbona, 11, stands on the right holding a picture of her brother Isaiah who was killed by gun violence.

Carl Juste cjuste@miamiherald.com

The Florida Parents of Murdered Children has more than 85 members, the vast majority of whom still haven’t seen justice for their loved ones’ killings.

In 2017, there were 188 homicides in Miami-Dade County. Cops solved 60 of them, leaving a clearance rate barely over 30 percent. That number drops even lower in predominantly black communities, Napoleon said.

Tangela Sears, a gun violence community activist who leads the group, said three parents in her organization recently lost their second child to gun violence while waiting for the first child’s killer to be put behind bars.

Luther Campbell, a hip-hop legend turned community activist, call the high number of unsolved cases “pathetic.”

“Why do we have so many cold cases when it comes to the African American community?” he said. “Blame it on the people who need to be putting these people in jail.”

Members of the parents group said most of them know who their child’s killer, but the shooter remains unpunished. Rosemary Newbold lost her son 23 years ago and said she has still never gotten a call from a detective about his case.

“I called until I stopped calling because they never had an answer,” she said.

Charmaine Roundtree, who passed out towels with her 21-year-old son’s “Seeking Homicide Information” bulletin from Miami Gardens Police printed on them, had tears running down her face as she pleaded with community members to tell police what they know.

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Miami Police officer, James Fraser, right, helps tie ballons in memory Richard Lindsey at the site where his decomposed body was found in a green sedan on last Tuesday, February 12, 2019. Members of Florida Parents of Murdered Children, concerned citizens, and local police officers stood together in remembering the first anniversary of the Marjory Stone Douglas mass shooting in solidarity with Parkland Kids, Pray for Parkland Parents on Thursday, February 14, 2019.

Carl Juste cjuste@miamiherald.com

“Why are you holding back?” she asked. “They wasn’t scared to pull the trigger. Don’t be scared to turn them in.”

Roundtree and her 9-year-old daughter, Heiress, wore matching red bandanas and T-shirts honoring Micheal “MikeMike” Mathis Jr. Their Valentine’s Day plans include stopping by his grave later in the day with red roses and candy.

“We’ll bring his favorite,” Roundtree said. Heiress finished the sentence, “Snickers.”

Ora Austin, who lost her son on Feb. 15, 2018, is holding a peace walk at noon on Saturday, Feb. 16 at Northwest 179th Street and 24th Avenue.