04/24/1995 at 01:00 AM EDT
The pain inflicted by violent crime on both its victims and their survivors was reflected not only in our cover story, Shattered Lives PEOPLE, April 3), but in the responses of several correspondents who have lost someone they loved. Since our story appeared, we have learned of a new arrest in the case of John Wood, a young doctor who was shot and killed in Manhattan in 1981. It was not until last summer that a first suspect was arrested and charged in the killing. Last week New York City Police announced the arrest of a second, Daryl Whitley, 32, and Det. Jerry Giorgio, who has worked on the case since the beginning, says a third suspect may still be at large.
It is impossible for a reader to truly comprehend the emotional impact on the family members of victims of violent crimes. Nine years ago my sister was abducted and murdered outside her office at the World Trade Center in Dallas. What began as a normal day for me then ended with a life-changing event. Even now there is not a 15-minute period in my life when I don't reflect upon the events of that day.
GREG KARNES, Oklahoma City
Lately it seems as though the accused in a criminal case has become the star in a very sick play, and the victims are the bit players quickly forgotten. Thank you for reminding us that there are no "stars" in violent crimes, only very real human beings whose lives have been changed irrevocably.
JILL BOTHA, Placentia, Calif.
While I sympathize with Carolyn McCarthy's anger at the loss of her husband and the severe injury of her son at the hands of Colin Ferguson, I would like to suggest that her efforts in support of "gun control" would be better spent supporting legislation aimed at the real problem—not the gun but the criminal who used it. It would be far better to support a concealed weapon carry law in the state of New York. Had one person on that train been carrying a legally concealed weapon, it is unlikely the carnage would have reached its final proportions.
DR. GAITHER B. EVERETT, Cincinnati
On Nov. 6, 1992, my son Sean, 17, was murdered by another 17-year-old boy, a stranger who had an illegal handgun. In the months afterward I realized I could either crawl into a hole and let my grief consume me or, in Sean's memory, I could make a difference. I decided on the latter, and for the past two years I have been talking to people young and old about the dangers involved in possessing a firearm.
JULIA COOPER, Richardson, Texas
In a truly civilized society, the outrage over the murder of any person would be so great that no punishment would be considered too severe for those who terrorize our homes and neighborhoods. Your article clearly points out that the only people who undergo any real suffering now are the crime victims themselves, whom our justice system mocks by having the audacity even to consider parole for cold-blooded murderers.
EDWIN SHANKS, New Orleans
Has it ever occurred to anyone that Colin Ferguson, Wayne Williams and other criminals have families too, who also have "shattered lives" through no fault of their own? Crime devastates the perpetrator's family as well as the victim's. There is this persistent myth in our society that all victims' families are saints and all criminals' families are trash. Well, it's wrong. Because how would you feel if someone wanted to execute your father or brother?
JAMES TERRELL, Jacksonville, Fla.
When I lived in Fort Lewis, Wash., I often shopped in nearby Tacoma at the B&I shopping mall. Each trip ended with a sorrow-filled visit to Ivan's cage at the back of the store. The look in his eyes was unbearably sad. My heart soars now to find he is free! Ironically, I too moved to Atlanta. I haven't visited Zoo Atlanta, but you can be sure I'll be paying a visit to my old friend.
JUDI GAMBLE, Marietta, Ga.
I don't buy into the "poor, betrayed, little me" lamenting from Linda Medlar, the woman jilted by HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros. Even Pollyanna wasn't this naive. Hooking up with a married man is like buying a used car—it usually worked better for the first owner.
LILLIAN HOWERTON, Evansville, Ind.