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|Losing Matthew....Parents hope adults learn lesson from son's death|
There may be many lessons in the tragic murders last year of 16-year-old Matthew Whittington and John and Geraldine Wood, but Whittington's mother, Judy, hopes that people learn the necessity of locking away firearms.
Judy said she is aware that the acts of Connor Wood, convicted of the murders last month, have affected the entire community, especially the 11th grade classes at Cathedral and Huntington. And she feels in some way, everyone in Adams County and Concordia Parish.
"I hope adults will learn from this -- I hope they will lock up their guns and bullets," she said. "Our sons never played with guns. Matt never killed a roly poly -- that was his way. He valued every aspect of God's creation. If this can happen to Matt Whittington -- it can happen to anyone, any time, anywhere."
"It is my crusade now to reach adults -- the grownups. I am not trying to take away anyone's Second Amendment rights," she said. "But if you are going to have guns, please lock them up. It is as simple as that."
Last Wednesday, Wood was sentenced to three life sentences by Judge Leo Boothe for the murder of his parents and Whittington.
On Thursday morning, Judy described the beginning of her day.
"I don't sleep well, I have dreams and I write them all down," she said. "This morning my husband Dennis tried to wake me. I told him I was having a good dream -- a dream about Matthew, and didn't want to wake up."
"That was today," said Judy Whittington that morning. "But I awoke. I awoke to my nightmare. I awoke and my son is still not here."
Judy has not slept well since March 14, 2007, the day that forever changed the lives of the Whittington family -- Judy, Dennis and son Daniel and his wife, Mallory, as well as an extended families of aunts, uncles, and cousins.
Her feelings on the sentencing, "Connor Wood will never again violently kill another innocent human being. He will never get another chance. Dennis and I still neither have our son."
Judy sat in the Sentinel office Thursday with a book of memories showing a son living a seemingly ideallic childhood. There were photographs of Matthew at Scouting events, school activities, at home with his family, on vacations, at birthday parties, at Christmas. There are items of school work including essays written by Matthew.
"We never saw this coming at all," said Judy, telling of her family's life on Huntington Drive in Ferriday. "None of this makes any sense -- he never drank, smoked, or did anything except try to avoid a haircut."
Judy explained that their home was open to all the neighborhood boys and that there were three or more always around. Matthew's closest friends were Jacob Lancaster and Max Jackson.
"They were together 24/7 -- they grew up together. Aaron Adair also, Michael Dekerlegend was also a best friend, I could go on and on," she said. "I do want to clear one thing up, Connor was not Matt's best friend."
"We got along with all our neighbors, including the Wood family," she said. "We all took care of the neighborhood boys."
"He (Connor) was one of them included by the neighbors and us. No one left him out," said Judy.
"The only thing I remember standing out is that Matt had mentioned to me that 'Connor is not like he was when we were in Cub Scouts together. Connor hates his mother and father and talks bad about them,'" explained Judy.
"I told Matt to try and have compassion and just be a friend. That is the reason Matt continued to include him," she said.
Matthew did continue to befriend Connor. A friendship that ended in tragedy.
In excerpts from the victim impact statement Judy prepared and read in the courtroom last Wednesday she described her son. She also cast a glimpse at the pain of a mother who has lost a child to violence. The following is from her statement:
"Matthew was full of humor, love and life. For those of us who were blessed to know him also know he would do almost anything to bring a smile to your face and happiness to your heart. What else can I say about such a wonderful son? He was a great person and that doesn't even come close to describing Matthew.
|Frank Morris Murder Series|