From time to time, we receive emails about VINE from people throughout the country. Although we do not operate the VINE service, Mary Byron’s murder spurred its creation. The following is from a victim from Iowa whose story is so compelling, we asked and received her permission to share it.
Dear Mary Byron Project,
I would like to thank you for creating and providing the VINE service. I am a stalking victim in Iowa who checks the web site regularly just for peace of mind knowing that the person who victimized me and my children is still incarcerated.
Before he was sent to prison he would regularly head straight to my neighborhood after bailing himself out of jail on charges of violating the order of protection. This was his way of showing me that he was in charge, not the law, and having him arrested wouldn’t change his behavior. I’m not going to go into too much detail about my story here, but will tell you he was charged over 40 times with crimes he committed against my family. Five of those charges were for stalking.
The VINE notifications I received when he was released were instrumental in helping me keep my loved ones informed of his release, therefore more alert of his possible presence in our neighborhood. On the day he committed his 5th stalking crime against us, it was within two hours of bailing himself out of jail after being charged with 8 new violations of the order of protection.
I received a VINELink text that he was released from jail when I was just ready to leave work, notified my family members that he was released, and headed to the grocery store. When I arrived home, I saw him sitting near my home watching it. My daughter’s boyfriend also saw him watching our home when he drove into town to take his sisters to soccer practice. We were all on high alert and more aware of our surroundings due to the VINE notification I received. I believe this was instrumental when the case went to trial since we were able to testify about the notification, the fact that he once again headed straight to my home after bailing out of jail, our witnessing his behavior and testifying to the events that happened.
His probation was revoked and he was sent to prison 3 weeks after that 5th stalking charge, on September 1, 2010. He is serving 21 years total, but has already been granted a parole hearing due to good behavior. I fear the day he is released from prison and hope that I am notified right away so my family can go back on high alert.
I have a web site where you can read about some of my story. It’s http://www.stalkinghelpnow.org/. My goal now is to raise awareness on the issue of stalking. I feel it is not taken as seriously as it should be.
My sympathy to the family of Mary Byron on her passing. It does not surprise me that it happened on her birthday. Former intimate partners often victimize their victims on their birthday, holidays or dates with special meaning to them.
The National Victim Notification Network (VINE®) was created by Appriss as a result of Mary Byron’s death.
Mary had been raped, assaulted, and stalked by her former boyfriend in late 1993. He was arrested and jailed for these crimes, but someone posted his bail and he was released. There was no way for Mary to know.
Mary was murdered on December 6, 1993 on her 21st birthday. She sat in her car as it warmed up after leaving her job at the Mall St. Matthews. Her former boyfriend approached from the driver’s side and fired seven bullets into her head and chest at point blank range, killing her.
Exactly one year after Mary’s murder, Jefferson County became the first community to institute automated telephone notification for crime victims and other concerned citizens. VINE® is now used in thousands of communities across the nation.
John Byron, Mary’s father, couldn’t help but think about what might have been. After VINE was introduced, he said, “If only they’d had this a year ago, Mary would be alive.”
“If only…” Time and time again, these words are uttered across our nation. Yet, solutions are within our grasp. The Mary Byron Project was established with that quest in mind.
We are so glad that VINE® has helped protect so many families and individuals across the United States. This is what the Mary Byron Project is all about; helping people stay safe and protected from domestic violence and intimate partner violence perpetrators.
Mary’s death was a tragedy for her family and the community, but when we hear stories like Victoria’s, it lets us know that something positive has come out of this horrific tragedy.