Park Strip tree symbolizes remembrance for victims of crime

Michelle Theriault Boots
Bill Roth

Taylor Winston tied a black ribbon to a chokecherry tree on the Park Strip Monday, remembering a baby and a case lost.

The boy was 6-months-old when he died. His father was accused of killing him, but was acquitted at trial.

"Nobody is really here for that child," Winston said. "Nobody was ever there for that child."

Winston had been the prosecutor in the case. "I never got to ask the jury why" it voted to acquit, she said.

At the annual Alaska Crime Victims' Rights Week tree ceremony Monday every ribbon held a painful story: black ribbons represented homicide, orange assault, green for child abuse, purple for domestic violence. The tree, donated in 1987 as a symbol of remembrance for crime victims, had grown tall and sturdy from a sapling.

In matters like restitution and the ability of victims to speak at bail and sentencing hearings Alaska surpasses much of the country, said Susan Sullivan, the head of Victims for Justice. "Alaska is on the forefront of the victims' rights movement," she said.

Part of the reason is a State of Alaska Office of Victims' Rights, which Winston heads, said Sullivan. The office is funded by money taken from the permanent fund dividends of convicted criminals.

Glen Klinkhart's ribbon was yellow, for kidnapping.

On Easter weekend of 1981 his 17-year-old sister Dawn Klinkhart was raped and murdered in the family's Hillside home.

More than a decade later Klinkhart would become an Anchorage police detective himself, working on high-profile cases like the murder of college student Bethany Correira, which held eerie parallels to his own sister's death.

It is never easy to be a victim of crime, he said.

But today there are more dedicated resources for victims, meant to help them navigate complex legal proceedings while grieving. You can even have someone stand by your side in the courtroom, Klinkhart said.

"That wasn't available to my parents."

 

Reach Michelle Theriault Boots at mtheriault@adn.com or 257-4344.

 

 


By MICHELLE THERIAULT BOOTS
mtheriault@adn.com