Homicide Advocacy Program

NCVAN Homicide Advocacy Program

Murder doesn’t just affect an individual; it also affects a family and a community,

creating an array of needs – emotional and practical – that are often left unmet.

The Homicide Advocacy Program strives to address the needs of homicide survivors/co-victims

in communities across North Carolina.

 

NCVAN recognizes that loved ones of homicide victims  are unique.

Homicide survivors/co-victims often don’t get the same services and support as other victims of crime.

Homicide survivors/co-victims experience a complex array of emotions.

Their grief is especially complicated and they are left to navigate a world that is foreign and may feel cold and uncaring.

The Homicide Advocacy Program can provide valuable assistance in this time of grief and confusion.

The Homicide Advocacy Program is victim-centered and also serves as a resource for victim services professionals.

*Disclaimer: The information presented below is meant only as a guide to assist loved ones as they navigate life after homicide. This is in no way meant to be legal advice nor should it be construed as such.

 

For more in-depth legal inquiries or counsel we encourage homicide survivors/co-victims to reach out to an attorney or NC Legal Aid for further assistance.

WHO DOES THE HOMICIDE ADVOCACY PROGRAM SERVE?

According to the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation 637 lives were taken by homicide in 2017.

 

Some studies estimate that for every homicide victim there are at least 10 homicide survivors/co-victims*.

 

A homicide survivor/co-victim is anyone impacted by the death of a homicide.

 

Homicide survivors/co-victims can be: Parents, Siblings, Spouses/Partners, Children, Extended Family Members, Grandparents, Friends

 

*Holmes, T. (2004, November). Life after death. Black Enterprise, 35(4), 184.

 

NCVAN is here for all homicide survivors/co-victims

WHAT DOES THE HOMICIDE ADVOCACY PROGRAM OFFER?

Our Program Offers:

 

  • Court Accompaniment and care kits
  • Counseling resources
  • Assistance navigating the Criminal/Legal Process
  • Financial Support for homicide survivors/co-victims attending court who are not witnesses for the state
  • Support Groups in North Carolina
  • Memorial Events
  • Civil Assistance resources
My LOVED ONE HAS BEEN MURDERED. HOW DO I CLOSE OUT MY LOVED ONE'S ESTATE?

These are examples of property and/or information that may need your attention:

 

  • Apartment/Lease
  • Car
  • Cell phone
  • Banking

 

More information can be found at this link: NC COURTS

 

In order to resolve these issues you’ll need a death certificate as proof that the person you’re acting on behalf of is deceased.

WHAT ABOUT THE DEATH CERTIFICATE?

Who May File the Death Certificate?

 

  • Funeral Director/Funeral Home
  • Hospital
  • Medical Examiner’s Office

 

How long does it take to get a death certificate?

 

  • Depends on circumstances of death.
  • If waiting on cause of death, a temporary certificate will be issued.
How do I obtain a Death Certificate?

If you need a copy of the Death Certificate you will need to either go in-person to the County’s Register of Deeds in which your loved one resided or check online on their website:

 

  • Enter the county and ‘register of deeds’ in your search engine (e.g. Google) and hit “enter.” You will find their website listed in your search results.
  • Find the tab that says “Vital Records” or something similar and click on it.

 

When requesting the certificate expect a nominal fee:

 

  • $10 for certified copy
  • $0.25-$1.00 for uncertified copy –varies from county to county.
  • There may be a minimal “convenience fee” for online requests.
  • Additional fees for “expediting” (typically $15 or more)
  • Each county has an online form that is a simple ‘fill-in-the-blank’
  • Expect to produce ID – see list of acceptable ID’s here.

 

YOU CAN ALSO GO TO THE REGISTER OF DEEDS IN-PERSON IN YOUR COUNTY.

 

If further assistance with this matter is needed please contact NCVAN’s main number at: 919-831-2857 and one of our staff can walk you through the on-line process.

WHO CAN GET CERTIFIED COPIES OF DEATH CERTIFICATES?

As authorized by NCGS 130A-93(c), copies may only be issued to the following:

 

  • Spouse, sibling, direct ancestor (child or grandchild) or descendant (parents or grandparents) or stepparent or stepchild;
  • A person seeking information for a legal determination of personal or property rights; or
  • An authorized agent, attorney or legal representative of a person described above.
WHAT IS AN AUTOPSY?

In North Carolina, whenever a person is taken by homicide, an autopsy will be performed to determine the exact cause of death.

 

The North Carolina Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) will perform the autopsy. The OCME investigates all deaths in North Carolina due to injury or violence, as well as natural deaths that are suspicious, unusual, or unattended by a medical professional.

HOW DO I OBTAIN AN AUTOPSY REPORT?

If you wish to obtain the autopsy report you can go to:

and select “Document Request” on their website as indicated here:

*Please note that an autopsy report can go into depth and will include a basic diagram of injuries. This can be triggering.

 

It is not necessary for a homicide survivor/co-victim or loved one to have a report to close out an estate. This is one more piece of documentation available should you find it helpful.

WHAT FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE IS AVAILABLE?

Through the North Carolina Department of Public Safety (DPS)/Division of Victim Services, you may be eligible for victim’s compensation to cover funeral and/or medical expenses incurred prior to the death of your loved one.

 

Things you should know about the program:

 

  • Maximum $5000 for funeral expenses
  • Must file for compensation within 2 years
  • Money goes directly to the service provider
  • A victim must not have participated in criminal activity or contributory misconduct. For more information please see here.
WHERE CAN I FIND MORE INFORMATION ON FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE?

The North Carolina Department of Public Safety offers Victim Services programs detailed on their website:

Or go directly to their FAQ page:

Information on filing claims and Application:

*Please note that NCVAN is a different organization from the NCDPS Crime Victim Compensation. We’re happy to answer any general questions about their program but for any specific questions we recommend you contact them directly at 919-733-7974.

WHAT CAN I EXPECT WORKING WITH LAW ENFORCEMENT?

The state of North Carolina defines murder as: “The willful (non-negligent) killing of one human being by another.”

 

This time can be the most daunting and cold feeling for homicide survivors/co-victims as they attempt to understand the jargon and the investigative processes and procedures.

 

Though there will be information Law Enforcement cannot share with you, they will communicate with you to the extent allowed by policy and procedure.

 

 

 

Working with Law Enforcement:

 

Though it may seem challenging at times please keep in mind that police want to find the person(s) responsible for your loved one’s death.

 

 

Here are some common challenges that loved ones might experience with law enforcement:

 

  • “The Investigator is not communicating with me.” Often times they are limited in what they can share in order to preserve the integrity of the investigation.
  • “Progress is painfully slow.” The legal processes can be slow as evidence must be obtained legally in order to successfully prosecute the crime. Evidence processing and testing can take months to years due to various factors.
  • “The Investigator is unfeeling toward me and my family.” Law enforcement must remain objective and often times comes across as cold. Investigators cannot afford to become emotional as that will hinder their capacity to do their job.
  • “The police won’t share the reports with me and I want to read them.” All police reports, photos and documents are considered evidence and cannot be shared. HOWEVER, homicide survivors/co-victims have the right to obtain the specifically assigned case report (or incident report) number in order to have it for reference when contacting the assigned investigator .
  • “My loved one had personal property on them when they were killed and I can’t get it back.”  These items are considered evidence and may never be returned to homicide survivors/co-victims. This is in accordance with state laws on evidence preservation.

 

 

If you have any further questions or need assistance when trying to navigate the world of law enforcement please contact NCVAN’s main number to speak with a victim advocate.

919.831.2857 or  800.348.5068

 

*Investigator and Detective are often used interchangeably. Different agencies can have different titles for sworn officers assigned to their specified duties.

What can I expect from the District Attorney’s Office?

Just as working with law enforcement can be overwhelming, it can be challenging for the homicide survivor/co-victim to understand the legalese and prosecution process.

 

 

The term District Attorney or Prosecutor can be used interchangeably. Essentially this is the State of North Carolina working on behalf of your loved one to ensure that the person responsible for your loved one’s death is held accountable in the court of law and punished by the State.

 

However, you should know that the prosecutor is not considered the attorney for your loved one or for you. The prosecutor is the attorney for the STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA therefore the case will be referred to as “State of NC vs Defendant.” Homicide survivors/co-victims do have the right to hire an attorney to safeguard their rights as homicide survivors/co-victims. Homicide survivors/co-victims, who have limited English proficiency, have the right to request an interpreter.

 

If an arrest has been made in the case, homicide survivors/co-victims should expect to be contacted by the District Attorney’s office assigned to the case to discuss prosecution.  You may be contacted by the “Victim Witness Coordinator” or the “Victim Advocate.” They work on behalf of the District Attorney’s office and serve as a liaison between you and the District Attorney. You may be contacted directly by the District Attorney (DA) or Assistant District Attorney (ADA). Keep in mind that every office does things a little bit differently but they all work with the same goal in mind: SUCCESSFUL PROSECUTION.

 

To learn who the District Attorney is in your area of the state please click the button below:

What is the Court Process like?

Homicide is the most serious crime a person can commit. Due to the seriousness of homicide, it can take at least a year, most likely longer, before a court trial is scheduled. This process can be frustrating for homicide survivors/co-victims.

 

There are many processes and procedures that must be followed and many motions that must be filed and heard before the trial can begin. The offender (or referred to as the defendant at this stage) has rights as required by the U.S. Constitution. The overarching reason for defendant rights is to guarantee fair proceedings when people are threatened by loss of life, liberty, or property by the government. While this can be extremely frustrating for the homicide survivors/co-victims it is necessary.

How can NCVAN help me with the Court Process?

NCVAN offers Court Accompaniment for loved ones.

 

Because attending the trial can be taxing, isolating and confusing, it’s nice having someone there to offer additional support by  being present. NCVAN victim advocates and team members can attend court proceedings if requested. Please be advised that NCVAN staff is only there for support and is not able to act in any legal capacity for you or on your loved ones’ behalf.

 

NCVAN volunteers have assembled court care kits for loved ones attending court. These “kits” typically include: tissues, chap stick, hand sanitizer, gum or mints.

 

Court benches are hard and uncomfortable. Our volunteers crafted seat cushions to make court just a little more bearable.

 

If you’re interested in any of these services  or if you have questions about the court process in general please contact our main number so you can speak to a victim advocate.

919-831-2857 or 800-348-5068

How can NCVAN help with travel expenses related to Court attendance?

NCVAN acknowledges not only the mental and emotional toll that attending court can take but also the financial toll. NCVAN offers financial support for homicide survivors/co-victims who are attending court. If a homicide survivor/co-victim is NOT attending court as a witness for the prosecution, they can qualify for reimbursement.

 

Reimbursement for:

 

  • Air or Ground Transportation
  • Lodging
  • Food
  • Related Parking Fees
  • Related Toll Fees

 

In order to receive financial support by reimbursement the appropriate forms must be completed fully and submitted to NCVAN.

Typically the forms are completed by the appropriate District Attorney’s Office. For further information or inquiries on this program, please click the button below or call us at 919.831.2857 or  800.348.5068.

Is counseling available?

Homicide is a life altering event. We support seeking professional guidance as a result of the traumatic loss you have experienced. Only you will know if and when your’re ready for counseling or for peer support.

 

Working with a counselor who has specialized training in complicated grief and traumatic loss may be helpful. NCVAN works to ensure that these counselors are trauma informed.

 

NCVAN can refer you to agencies or specific counselors in your area who are Trauma Informed and are willing to work with homicide survivors/co-victims. These counselors have been identified by NCVAN staff. Please contact our main number for referrals: 800-348-5068 or 919-831-2857.

Are Support Groups available?

NCVAN recognizes that it can be helpful for loved ones to meet others experiencing complicated grief who may be able to offer support in ways that friends and family cannot. There are support groups in the state that specialize in homicide and NCVAN is working to expand this list.

 

Buncombe County:

Certified by NCVAN
Meets 2nd Tuesday each month at 7:00-8:30 p.m.
YWCA 185 S. French Broad Ave, Asheville, NC
Contact: Jean Parks 828-329-8306/jparks@grandcreative.com

 

Iredell County:

Iredell Homicide Support Group for Survivors
Meets 3rd Tuesday each month at 6:30 p.m.
Western Avenue Baptist Church 1206 Museum Rd, Statesville, NC
Contact: Sandy Davidson 704-528-0012

 

Wake County:

Certified by NCVAN
Meets 1st Tuesday each month at 6:30 p.m.
Loading Dock 1053 E. Whitaker Mill Rd, Raleigh, NC
Contact: Scott Bass 919-760-5430/scott@nc-van.org

 

Guilford County:

Hosted by Mothers Standing Against Gun Violence
Meets every other Thursday at 6:00 pm
Beloved Community Center 417 Arlington St, Greensboro, NC
Contact: Ingram Bell 336-587-1132/Face Book Page: Mothers Standing Against Violence

 

Hosted by Kellin Foundation
Meets every 1st and 3rd Monday of the month from 5:30-7:00 pm
2110 Golden Gate Dr, Greensboro, NC 27405
Contact: Caleb Turmel 336-641-2338/caleb@kellinfoundation.org

 

Mecklenburg County:

 

Hosted by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department Victim Support Services
Meets 1st  Tuesday each month at 6:30 p.m.
CMPD Head Quarters 601 E. Trade St, Charlotte, NC
Contact: Shardal Rose 704-336-2364/shardal.rose@cmpd.org

 

If you would like additional information please contact Scott Bass, Director of Homicide Support Services at scott@nc-van.org or 919-831-2857 ext. 101.

Is there an online support group?

NCVAN is excited to announce the launch of a

Monthly On-line Support Group

 

3rd Tuesday of each month

 

7:00 p.m.-8:30 p.m.

 

Facilitated by NCVAN staff member Scott Bass

 

If you would like additional information please contact Scott Bass, Director of Homicide Support Services at scott@nc-van.org or 919-831-2857 ext. 101. Registration is required and space is limited.

How can NCVAN help remember my loved one?

NCVAN has a Crime Victim Memorial Garden in Downtown Raleigh. The garden is a place where homicide victims can be remembered. The names of those taken by homicide are inscribed on bricks that line the walkway of the garden. The garden provides a tranquil space for loved ones.

If you wish to have a brick for your loved one placed in our garden, please click one of the buttons below, NCVAN will inscribe and place the brick(s) at no cost:

What events does NCVAN offer to help in my healing journey?
  • Annual Garden Memorial Service

The Annual Garden Memorial Service occurs every year during Crime Victims Rights Week which is the 3rd week of April. Join us for our ceremony in the garden located at the corner of Lane and Wilmington Streets in Raleigh.

  • Survivors of Homicide Victims Candlelight Vigil

 

Our Candlelight Vigil is held in December in Raleigh at the State Capitol grounds (Eastside) located at 1 Edenton Street. Bring a photo of your loved one or some other memento. Join us as we lend support to each other and remember loved ones taken from us.

  • Know Hope 5K Walk/Run

Our Annual Crime Victims’ Memorial Community Walk/Run, in remembrance of homicide victims is a 5K Walk/Run held in September.  Photographs of homicide victims are posted along the start/finish line. Children and leashed pets are welcome.

If you would like a photo of your loved one posted please upload your photo by clicking one of the below buttons:

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