Archived Story

83 violent crime victims memorialized

Published 5:45pm Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Phil Esarey of the Cass County Sheriff’s Office places tulips in memory of John and Carolyn Tarwacki, the Niles couple murdered Feb. 5, 2010.
Phil Esarey of the Cass County Sheriff’s Office places tulips in memory of John and Carolyn Tarwacki, the Niles couple murdered Feb. 5, 2010.

CASSOPOLIS — With the theme “New Challenges, New Solutions” for National Crime Victims’ Rights Week April 21-27, Cass County paused Tuesday to pay tribute to 83 lives lost due to violent crime since 1989.


Tulips in a variety of colors were placed at the base of a memorial in front of the Law and Courts Building.


“This reminds me how real it is, whether it happened to your family yesterday or 15 years ago,” said Victor Fitz,  who will see his 10th anniversary as prosecutor in May. “The pain is still very real. We thank you for giving us the opportunity to honor you and your loved ones, as we do every year.”


“In the last 10 days, our nation has seen some very real and new problems in Boston, Texas and Colorado that chill us to the bone,” Fitz said. “Cass County continues to deal with new and old problems, such as drugs. Methamphetamine was a new drug at one time. We see heroin coming back, along with cocaine and marijuana. Domestic violence and sexual assault all too often lead to more serious violent crimes, even murder.”


“We have to deal with new and old problems of negligence on the roadways,” Fitz said. “And just simple human frailties — greed and selfishness — contribute to the necessity of having a ceremony today. We look for new solutions to old problems, such as Drug Treatment Court, Family Treatment Court, Swift and Sure intensive probation, mental health treatment, truancy programs, graduation rates and child support to continue trying to hold parents accountable for being involved in their kids’ lives. Old mixes with that new, such as restitution, jail for offenders and even prison to deter those who are a continuing danger to our community.”


“Some of the new solutions are actually old solutions,” the prosecutor said. “Family, faith, marriage and forgotten virtues, such as honesty, chastity and insisting on adherence to right and wrong. We need to remember to pursue perfection. We’ll never get it, but it’s important in the way we raise our kids. Finally, the stakes are very real. If we don’t do what we need to do as a society, we’ll have far too many people continuing to come to this flagpole ceremony — not just as observers, but as families with victims who need to be remembered.”


All three county judges, Michael Dodge, Susan Dobrich and Stacey Rentfrow, attended the noon ceremony, along with Leigh Feldman of Family Court, Phil Esarey of the Cass County Sheriff’s Office, Sgt. Mike Dawson from the Michigan State Police in Niles, Dowagiac Deputy Police Chief Steve Grinnewald and County Commissioner Roseann Marchetti, of Edwardsburg.


More than 10,000 service agencies help victims throughout the nation.


Every year, states and localities receive millions of federal dollars to support these services.


This year marked the sixth annual book cover contest among area elementary schools.


Students compete to have their artistic portrayal of “Going to Court” included in the child- friendly booklet created by the Cass County Victim Unit.


This booklet helps child witnesses and victims as they prepare for court proceedings. Winners were announced during the Cass County Board of Commissioners meeting Thursday and their artwork is displayed in the Law and Courts Building.


By using this website’s user-contribution features, including comments, photo galleries, or any other feature, you agree to abide by the terms of use. Please read this agreement in its entirety because it contains useful information that will help you better understand the rules and general "good manners" that are expected when contributing content to this website.

Editor's Picks