Day to remember murder victims

Posted Sept. 22, 2009, at 8:13 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims will be held at 1 p.m. Friday in the Hall of Flags in the State House.

It will be the third year the event, sponsored by the Maine chapter of Parents of Murdered Children, has been observed to pay tribute to the hundreds of Maine residents who have been victims of homicides.

“Not only is it meaningful for our loved ones to be remembered,” Arthur Jette, head of the Maine chapter of the national organization, said in a news release, “it is important for the public to recognize the tremendous losses endured by their families and friends who relive the nightmare for the remainder of their lives.”

Jette, 58, of Dexter was featured two years ago in a series of public service announcements designed to combat domestic-related gun violence. His 21-month-old grandson was murdered along with a 20-year-old babysitter more than nine years ago.

The grandfather has acted as the spokesman for the families of toddler Treven Cunningham and Mindy Gould since they were murdered execution-style on Dec. 3, 1999, in Gould’s sister’s home in Dexter. The previous month, Gould had ended a three-year relationship with Jeffrey Cookson, now 46, of Dover-Foxcroft.

Cookson was convicted in December 2001 by a Penobscot County jury of shooting Cunningham and Gould two years earlier. He is serving two consecutive life sentences at the Maine State Prison in Warren.

The Maine chapter of Parents of Murdered Children has provided support and prevention services for surviving family members of murder victims in Maine for more than 19 years. The group is working to create a permanent memorial monument in Memorial Park on state-owned property in Augusta.

Speakers at Friday’s event will include state Attorney General Janet Mills, Maine State Police Col. Richard Fleming; Jill Barkley of the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence; Donna Strickler of the Sexual Assault Crisis and Support Center and Jette.

Those who have lost a loved one to homicide are asked to bring a framed, free-standing photo of the victim for the memorial display table.

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