A local family whose daughter was murdered four years ago is turning their grief into an opportunity to help other families who have lost loved ones.
In February of 2008, 18-year-old Sarah Clark and Tanner Pehl were killed by Justin Crenshaw, who then set the North Spokane house on fire to try and cover up their murders.
Sarah's murderer will spend the rest of his life in prison, while the victims' families will spend a lifetime in grief.
“She called me pops, 'What's up pops?'” Sarah's father, Steve Clark, remembers.
“To me it's like an amputation, perhaps I have a prosthesis, but I'm never going to forget that my leg is gone,” Teesha Clark, Sarah's mother, said.
In the months after Sarah's murder, others expected the parents to move on. They refused to though; there was no moving on without Sarah. Teesha and Steve Clark found a support group, but it was all the way in Tacoma where a group of families shared an unfortunate bond.
Finally, Teesha remembers, someone understood.
“I had stepped onto a slab of concrete in the middle of a raging stormy ocean, and I could be there for a while,” Teesha once wrote in her journal.
Spokane didn't have a group for families of homicide victims, which is why they traveled to Tacoma periodically. There is certainly a need in region though, as there have been seven murders since Christmas: Stefanie Comack, Chanin Starbuck, Kim Schmidt, Tracy Ader and her two sons, and most recently Marcus Schur.
“It makes you mad, it affects so many people, and you just want to say 'stop killing people, stop it,'” Steve said.
In response to their own grieving process, and recognizing the need in the Inland Northwest, Teesha and Steve opened their hearts and started Spokane Homicide Support Services.
“When I see in the headlines that someone has been murdered, my heart just goes out to these families,” Teesha said. “What they're going through, because I know, I know that pain.”
They've been meeting once a month since last fall at a local church. Every member is encouraged to share their story. It helps the Clarks as much as it does the other members of a group, who would rather trade in their membership to get their loved one back.
“It's like exercising,” Steve says of the support group. “You may be sore the next day after you're exercising, you may feel a little heavy, but you know you've had a good workout, you know you've done some things that have helped you live a better life.”
Spokane Homicide Support Services can be found online at http://spokanehomicidesupportservices.org/. Teesha and Steve encourage anyone affected by homicide to contact them.