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Families of Young Murder Victims Gather for Support, Strategy

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They’re some of the most recognizable faces in our area – but unfortunately – for tragic reasons.

They’re the young victims of unthinkable crimes.

This weekend, their loved ones are coming together to make sure no other families have to endure the same kind of pain.

“What we’re trying to do is give meaning to Polly’s death and create a legacy in her name that will be protective of children for generations to come,” said Marc Klaas.

That’s been Klaas’ mission since his 12-year-old daughter, Polly, was abducted from a Petaluma slumber party and killed, back in 1993.

That’s why he’ll be in Rancho Cordova this weekend with the Army of Angels, fighting for better public policies to keep kids safe from predators like Polly’s killer.

“I followed Polly’s case. I felt connected automatically, never realizing that two years later I’d be standing in Marc’s place,” said Sandy Friend.

Friend, of Yuba City, became a member of Klaas’ club of mourning, motivated parents in 1996.

Her baby boy Michael Lyons was brutally raped and stabbed 70 to 80 times.

“From the first stab wound to the last was about 10 hours.  He took Michael’s life the following day,” said Friend.

As she takes part in this gathering of those who’ve lost young loved ones to homicide, she’s pushing for offenders to actually have to face their punishment.

“Right now I’m really behind streamlining the death penalty,” she said.

Michael’s killer, Robert Boyd Rhoades is still alive on death row.

Klaas has his eye on legislation, AB 109 and potentially Prop 36.

“Once they start letting these 3,000 third-strikers back on the street, we’re going to see crime rates back where they were in the early 90’s,” said Klaas.

The summit will continue tomorrow with a policy rally.

Then, at 7 a.m. on Sunday, the ‘Kross Kountry for Kids’ motorcycle tour will leave from Rancho Cordova.

Advocates riding in honor of Michael Lyons will go all the way to Washington, D.C. to get the word out about protecting America’s kids from predators.

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