Children of murdered mothers left to live in the wake of wickedness

Published11/11/2007 12:08 AM

One of the reasons I know I could never be a police officer is that I couldn't handle the kind of horror Aurora cops came upon in the apartment of Brenetta Beck on Oct. 30.

It would be hard enough for me to not turn my eyes from her body. Beck was found dead from numerous stab wounds on her head and upper body. Which means she had to be fighting for her life from a killer whose rage wasn't to be satiated until her attacker was sure she was dead.


But I know I couldn't have stopped looking into the eyes of two terrified babies, Brenetta's babies, who were also found in the apartment, uninjured, but in tears.

What comfort could I possibly give to her 16-month-old daughter, and her son, who had been born just 10 days before his mother was murdered?

What would it have mattered anyway? They wanted their mom.

What will their lives be like, from now on? Everything that is supposed to be sweet and innocent and fun in childhood has been ripped from them as surely as that knife flashed about, hopefully not before their eyes.

Who could do something like this? They had to be built on Satan's workbench. Aurora police say they have a suspect in the murder.

I don't know much about Brenetta Beck, outside of what I have read in our story on her brutal slaying. Her life couldn't have been easy. She was a single mom, seeking child support from her former boyfriend, according to Kane County court records.

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But I will bet that, as a mother of two small children, she was looking forward to Halloween.

Just as Leticia Barrera of the Back of the Yards neighborhood in Chicago wanted her children to have a fun night of trick-or-treating.

But just as Barrera and her three children had returned from their happy cruise for candy, she was cut down by a bullet. She died, a victim of random gang violence. Shot to death while her children looked on.

What do we do, after the mourning is over? There are so many others like Brenetta Beck and Leticia Barrera, mothers who were murdered or caught in the crossfire of gang warfare. Mothers who go missing. Mothers fearing for their lives, for the lives of their children and finding no protection from those intent on killing them or doing them harm.

What do we tell their children? What will become of them?

I would hope that the children of Brenetta Beck and Leticia Barrera will one day be able to shed the shock and find happiness in their lives. I really do. But how hard will that be when, in one second they were squealing with delight at Halloween night, and in the next screaming in terror as their mother crumpled to the ground with a bullet in her head. Or when mom, lying in a pool of blood, won't wake up, to dry their tears.


We can hope for justice; that the killers will be caught and put in a place where they never do harm again.

Yet that harm can never truly be harbored behind the bars of a jail cell. It goes on and on in the lives of the children left in the wake of the wickedness thrust upon them.

Gandhi once said: "If we are to reach real peace in this world … we shall have to begin with children; and if they will grow up in their natural innocence, we won't have to struggle; we won't have to pass fruitless idle resolutions, but we shall go from love to love and peace to peace … which the whole world is hungering."

That would be my hope for the children. For all of us.

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