I want to let you all know that one of the Abolition Movement's long-time members and a friend to many of us in the Abolition Movement was murdered. Diana Shorthouse began working with us maybe 10 or 12 years ago. She has not been a regular at meetings for a few years now--probably 4 or 5 years. That's because she became a mother 5 years ago and really focused her time and energy on her precious daughter, Jolie. But she did attend important events and every year spent many, many hours addressing our holiday cards to those on death row in her beautiful calligraphy. This past December she had to cancel doing that at the last minute as she had to have surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome.
Diana was murdered by her estranged husband, Mbaraka, Jolie's father, on April 8. Mbaraka then killed himself. He left his daughter without any parents. She is the real victim. Fortunately, there are many of us who love Jolie and I am sure that Jolie will grow up knowing how wonderful her mother was. The last I heard, she did not know that her father was dead or that he killed her mother. She was told by the school counselor that her mother died.
During the last 3 weeks since Diana's death, we have gone from being totally shocked, to grieving, to trying to figure out how to contact her family in the Netherlands, to worrying about Jolie. Neither Diana nor Mbaraka had any family in the United States. Her family has been gotten in touch with. Jolie was put in Child Protective Services' custody with a nice family in LaPorte, just south of Houston. A dear friend of Diana's, Donna, is Jolie's godmother and is trying to get temporary custody until Diana's family decides what to do.
Some teachers at Jolie's school as well as many of us who are Diana's friends are planning a memorial for both Diana and Mbaraka. For Jolie's sake, it will be for both her parents. But I don't know when this memorial will be. The school principal and the school counselor are working on it with us.
I think Diana's family is coming from the Netherlands this weekend.
Those of us who knew Diana well have decided that she would want cremation and not burial, but the family will make arrangements for that when they come.
At the next meeting of the Abolition Movement, on Tuesday, May 6, we will have our own memorial for Diana at 6:00 before the 7:00 PM meeting. For those of you who knew Diana but are not in Houston, please send any messages that you would want us to read. There will be a bigger memorial later for both of Jolie's parents and their daughter will be there, but ours is just for Diana. Jolie will not be there--it will be just us.
This is such a tragedy for Jolie. Please keep her in your thoughts.
Diana visited and wrote to many on death row over the years. She was totally devastated when her dear friends Emerson Rudd and then Jessy San Miguel were executed. She was a kind, gentle soul who deserved all the happiness in the world. I don't think any of us expected that her life would be so tragically cut short. She will surely keep a special place in so many of our hearts.
Diana Shorthouse, presente!