Crime Victims, Supporters Honored in WI Rapids

By: Liz Hayes Email
By: Liz Hayes Email

Tens of millions of crimes are committed in the United States every year affecting countless lives.

In honor of National Crime Victim Rights Week, Wisconsin Rapids awarded leaders in the community who make sure victims get the support they need.

Today, victims of crimes and their families have more rights than ever before, and they have access to support and people who truly care. It's all thanks to a few dedicated individuals.

Tuesday evening's ceremony showed community support for crime victims and their families and recognized those who were instrumental in bringing victims services to Wood County.

From the first coordinator of the program to a special law enforcement officer, several community leaders were awarded.

The names of 34 victims of homicide from 1984-2009 were read, as a bell was rung.

One of those names was Forrest Vruwink, who was murdered in 2004.

"As a victim you feel alone and you feel scared and...the whole program you know there's other people that are out there and its comforting to know, it's just comforting," said Kathleen Vruwink, Forrest's mother.

Vruwink says Wood County's current Victim Witness Coordinator Trisha Anderson has been like an angel to her in her time of grief.

You may notice that hung throughout Wisconsin Rapids are banners meant to give the community an important message. They read: 'Justice isn't served until crime victims are.'

Awarded Tuesday: Former Wood County District Attorney Kevin Potter who submitted a proposal to begin the county's Victim Witness Service Office in 1984; the entire Wood County Board of Supervisors; Marcia Hladilek, the county's first victim witness coordinator; Arline Hillestad, the executive director of Family Center; Mary James-Mork, the first executive director of Personal Development Center in Marshfield; Ted Prange, a former social worker; and Gus Wenzel, a law enforcement officer.

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