Once a crime is committed, the repercussions never stop. This is the horror experienced by Bry and Jeanne Brykalski after Jeanne’s parents were murdered in 1995.
On the night of February 4 1995, two teens and a 20-year-old man, all with criminal histories, randomly selected a Knoxville, Tennessee house for burglary. When homeowners Les and Carol Dotts came home from their Sunday night dinner one of the thieves pulled a gun. Les was a self-employed WWII veteran. He was shot five times. Carol, who helped homeless animals find good homes, was shot seven times to include an executional-style shot to the head. Bry found his in-laws dead, the house ransacked.
The killers were caught and sentenced. Still, the horror never stops for the Brykalskis. “My husband and I are now an acronym: MVS. A Murder Victims Survivor,” Jeanne explains. “When one becomes a MVS your life changes forever in ways you never could imagine.”
First, Jeanne explains, “Is the murder itself … ugly, vicious, and evil. You are terrified that the monsters that killed your loved ones won’t be caught, and will do it again.” Add to this the horror of seeing Bry’s beloved in-laws dead, lying in blood and viscera.
A huge part of being a MVS is waiting. MVS’s are fearful of another crime. They check their mail, social media, telephone messages for any news on the perpetrators, legal actions, or case information. Any nighttime noise, telephone calls, or knocks on the door is frightening. Bry and Jeanne Brykalski agree: “you want to scream when there isn’t any news and cry when there is … a constant state of frustration, fear, confusion, and anticipation.” Many MVS complain of physical ailments; some turn to drugs and alcohol for escape.
The trial opens a new series of emotional wounds. Jeanne explains how, when she was within hearing distance, members of one of the perpetrator’s families said loudly of Les and Carol Dotts, “If they didn’t want their house broken into they shouldn’t have gone out to dinner.” The family also verbalized, “I don’t know why (Jeanne) is so upset; it’s not like she was there (the night of the murder).” Per laws and regulations in a trial court, Jeanne was not allowed to acknowledge the perpetrators nor their families; such actions can easily result in a mistrial.
After the trial, just when it all seems over and the MVP can try to live “normal” again, they are are notified that a law has been changed, there is a new appeal, the perpetrator is being moved to a new facility, or a parole hearing is scheduled. Now the family must fight to encourage the Parole Board to deny parole, face the perpetrator’s families, and go through the process – again – of waiting, reliving the crime, the feeling of being drug through the filth of the system, the criminal’s legal rights, and the sorrow. When she heard one of the perpetrators was scheduled for a parole hearing, Jeanne “went numb. Then sick to my stomach. Then my heart began pounding, with a throbbing in my ears, in horror and disbelief.” As she scrambles to gain signatures for a petition to deny the killer’s parole, Jeanne reports the perpetrator’s family is again attacking her, accusing her of lying about the shooting deaths of her parents in order to “make me and my case look worth fighting for.”
There are many questions from survivors of crime; the biggest is “why?” This question does not have an answer. Rather than concentrate on what they cannot control, Bry and Jeanne Brykalski concentrate on what they can control. In between, they grieve for Les and Carol constantly.
Help for Murder Victims Survivors, click here:
Parents of Murdered Children
Sign the petition to deny parole to the murderer of Les and Carol – CLICK HERE