Having her son’s name on the Maine Murder Victims’ Memorial Monument makes him “honorable,” Shirley Turner said Friday.
When William Robert Elliott was killed on Easter Sunday in 2006, many people believed he was “dishonorable” because his name and photograph were on the Maine Sex Offender Registry, his mother said.
“He was a wonderful young man who deserved good things in life, but who didn’t get those good things,” Turner, 55, of Patten said.
Elliott’s is one of 10 names to be unveiled Sunday at the annual event in the Holy Family Cemetery in Augusta where the monument is located.
Stephen A. Marshall, 20, of North Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada, targeted Elliott, 24, of Corinth and Joseph L. Gray, 57, of Milo because both men were listed on the sex offender registry. Marshall shot and killed both men in their homes in the early morning hours of April 16, 2006, then fled on a bus to Boston. As the bus was entering the terminal, Marshall took his own life.
Turner learned of the monument’s existence two months ago when she called Arthur Jette, the leader of the Maine Chapter of Parents of Murdered Children. Jette, who spearheaded an effort to create the memorial, told Turner about it, something he regularly does when talking to relatives of murder victims.
“He was kind enough to think of my child,” she said Friday. “It was really nice considering what he was charged with. No one else has respected my boy like that. He had a lot hardship because of the mistake he made.”
That “mistake” was having sex with his 15-year-old girlfriend in 2002 when Elliott was 20. Under Maine law, he would have to register as a sex offender for 10 years.
Turner has written a memoir titled “The Destroying Angel” about her abusive childhood and harrowing life with a controlling and abusive husband. It was not as painful as losing her only child the way she did.
“As much as I suffered from being molested, and from the beatings from my ex-husband, that wasn’t a quarter of the trauma I felt from losing my son,” she wrote. “He was my entire life for his 24 years. We knew each other’s thoughts and feelings before we even said them. When he was murdered, I lost almost everything.”
Families whose loved ones have been murdered understand how she feels. One reason for the monument is to help the public understand that pain, Jette said in 2014 when it was dedicated.
“We wanted something simple to be able to remember them as murder victims in a way that would give the public the opportunity to see the effects of violence in our state, which we all actually consider to be safe,” Jette said. “This is going to tell people that [the] death wasn’t natural, it wasn’t accidental. It was a life that was stolen by someone else. That’s really important to people who have experienced it.”
Another name that will be added this year is that of Marissa Kennedy, the 10-year-old girl who died in February in Stockton Springs. Her mother, Sharon Carrillo, 31, and step-father, Julio Carrillo, 51, both of Stockton Springs have been charged with murder in connection with her death, which was ruled a homicide. They are scheduled to be tried next year.
Marissa’s maternal grandfather, Joseph Kennedy of Newburgh, New York, arranged to have the girl’s name placed on the memorial, according to Jette.
Maine Murder Victims’ Memorial Monument was erected four years ago with an initial 83 names at the Holy Family Cemetery on Townsend Road in Augusta, according to Jette. Ten new names were added last year. The effort to create it came from the Maine chapter of the Parents of Murdered Children.
The national organization uses a red and black ribbon as symbolic of the loss of a loved one by homicide. In keeping with that theme, the memorial incorporates two polished black slabs of granite on each side of a polished red granite block. The pointed tips of the outer slabs point toward the heaven, symbolizing hope and reunification. The names are engraved on these sections.
On the bottom of the red granite section are engraved the words “They will always be remembered.” On the diamond-shaped section above that the image of a parent and child designed to epitomize the love of family. That section is unpolished so that in the rain, “tears” will streak down the monument.
The cost of having a new name engraved on the memorial each year is $150. Funds also are available from the Maine Victims Compensation Fund and the Maine chapter of Parents of Murdered Children.
Names must be submitted by May 15 of each year. New names are unveiled in a ceremony on the last Sunday of each June.
Jette said that no one “approves” the addition of a name but the fact that the loved one died as a result of a homicide is verified.
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