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Thanks given to those who aid victims

April 19, 2005|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

Two bank tellers, Division of Parole and Probation employees and Hagerstown Police Department detectives who went beyond the call of duty last year to help crime victims were recognized for their compassion last week by the Washington County State's Attorney's Office.

Jill Ritter, director of the office's Victim Witness Unit, said as part of Victim's Rights Week, which was April 10 to 15, the office recognized a person or group each morning that went beyond the call of duty to comfort crime victims in the past year. Those recognized received certificates and gifts.

"It means a lot to them to know that others are thanking them. I always start off saying, 'This is a little thank you,'" Ritter said. "They come back saying, 'You don't know how much that means to me.'"

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On April 11, Jim Wolfensberger, who works with the Drinking and Driving Monitor Program through the Division of Parole and Probation, was recognized for coordinating the victim impact panel. The panel is made up of victims who tell their stories to convicted offenders about how the crimes committed against them have affected their lives.

On April 12, Hagerstown Police Department Detective Christopher Kayser was recognized for working with the family of Jonathan Dennis, who was fatally shot in March 2004 at Washington Gardens Apartments.

"From start to finish," Ritter said, Kayser worked with the Dennis family, "keeping them calm and cooperative throughout the investigation." She said the department's criminal investigations division was recognized last week for its work with the family.

"They work hard and they don't just do their job," Ritter said. "They treat them as people rather than as a case."

On Wednesday, two M&T Bank tellers, Linda McCarty and Roselyn Welch, were recognized for helping an elderly woman by reporting that she was driven to the bank by a suspicious juvenile.

"Not only did these ladies bring the attention to authorities, but they came to court," she said. "They made a big deal out of it."

On Thursday, Hagerstown Police Department detectives Tammy Jurado and Jason Ackerman were recognized for working with the victim of an April 2004 rape, in which Kenneth Gene Hornbaker was later convicted of second-degree sex offense.

Ackerman "paid special attention to all the details on that case," Ritter said. Jurado "met the victim weekly. She always was very supportive."

On Friday, Division of Parole and Probation agent Todd Grindle was recognized for his work in dealing with victims of domestic violence, especially in dealing with the case of Mary Elizabeth Williams, who had taken out a protective order against her estranged husband, L. Richard Williams. Ritter said Grindle tried to ensure the safety of Williams and took the enforcement of her protective order seriously.

Mary Williams was fatally shot in February outside her Maugansville home.

"He really took (her death) hard," Ritter said.

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