|Sister of murdered men forms support group for victims’ survivors|
Guardian Senior Reporter
Published: Jul 02, 2012
A woman whose two brothers were murdered within eight months of each other has formed a support group for the survivors of homicide victims.
Khandi Gibson was recovering from a divorce when her elder brother, Anthro Knowles, 36, was gunned down on August 5, 2011.
She hadn’t come to terms with his unexpected death when another brother, Khanoachi Knowles, 31, met the same violent end on April 17, 2012.
Still, shortly after Khanoachi’s death Gibson opened her heart and reached out to others who have lost loved ones to violent crime, forming the support group Families of All Murder Victims (FOAM). There is definitely a need, as there have already been 68 murders for the year.
However, Gibson said she is most concerned about the most vulnerable victims of the violence – the children the usually male victims leave behind. She hopes her newly-formed organization will provide both emotional and tangible support to children.
She knows firsthand the challenges surviving relatives face when they seek help from Social Services or benefits from National Insurance.
None of her brothers’ children were able to receive survivor benefits because their fathers had made insufficient National Insurance contributions, she noted.
“Whenever I hear about another murder, my mind immediately goes on the little children,” she said, adding that if the children’s hurt is not addressed the cycle of violence will continue.
Yesterday tears flowed freely as five women united by grief gathered in Gibson’s cozy living room for the second monthly meeting of FOAM.
Like Gibson, most of them were still mourning a relative when another loved one’s life was cut short. All of the women said the group has helped the healing process.
Maxine Roberts lost two children in the space of a month. Jeffonya Rolle, 14, was killed on March 13, 2011 and Tecoyo McKinney, 26, was killed on April 14, 2011. He left behind two daughters.
Roberts, too, has experienced “turnarounds” while seeking public assistance for her son’s children. She said she gets angry at times, but with God’s help she has forgiven the killer. Michelle Knowles, who is Gibson’s mother, is still grieving her sons, Anthro and Khanoachi Knowles.
Karima Webster’s brother Dean Webster, 28, was murdered on May 9, 2012, just days before someone killed her boyfriend, Lavardo Dean, 33, on May 14, 2012. Dean Webster’s girlfriend and the mother of his two children, Nathalie Lightbourne, was also present.
They encouraged and comforted each other as they remembered their loved ones. In spite of their palpable grief, the women are buoyed by their faith and planned fundraisers to assist others.
Gibson can be contacted at 428-8282 or 393-FOAM.