Thirty years ago this week, a Birmingham Southern College student was abducted, raped and murdered by three fraternity brothers. It was a high profile case that drew national attention. The murder led to the creation of Victims of Crimes and Leniency or VOCAL.
Pieces of pottery made by Quennette Shehane are all her mother Miriam has to remember her by.
Quenette was murdered December 20th, 1976 in Birmingham when she left her boyfriend's house to get a bottle of salad dressing from the store.
“She was running, begging them not to kill her and they reloaded twice and then abandoned her,” said Miriam.
The murder led Miriam on a lifelong journey to improve rights for victims and their families.
She helped pass the Victim's Compensation Bill and a bill allowing victims to be in the courtroom and at the council table, as well as passed a statute saying victim's had to be notified for parole hearings.
“I never asked for [the] victim's right to be taken away, but all I asked for is the victim to have the same rights.”
Besides legislation, VOCAL is there for victim's families, helps with crime scene clean-up, and goes to trial with victims.
It's always hard at Christmas time for Miriam as she remembers her daughter's murder. However, it comforts her to know she's helping others. “I’m proud of what we've done and I know Quennette will not ever be forgotten,” she said.
One of the suspects in Quenette's murder was put to death in 1990. Another is in prison for life without parole.
The third suspect received a life imprisonment, so Miriam will continue to attend his parole hearing for the rest of her life to make sure he stays behind bars.
Shehane was also active in getting the Victims Right's Constitutional Amendment passed.