I was 23 years old and in medical school when I received a phone call from my dad. It was odd, because it was late at night, and I was visiting my new boyfriend. Nobody in my family knew his last name or phone number, because we had only been dating for about three weeks. I was immediately concerned. On the phone, my dad told me: “I’m sorry, honey, but your mother has been killed.” I was in shock.
I wondered: “Why on earth was someone allowed to purchase a gun to kill my mother after he had already killed someone with a gun?
— Stephanie Koski
I assumed she had died in a car accident. However, he then told me she had been murdered. I knew immediately that she had been killed by her friend. She had only known him for a few months—but he had become quickly obsessed with her.
I had asked her to end her friendship with him. He committed suicide after he murdered her with a gun. The entire crime scene was my bedroom in our family home. In his pocket, the detectives found a receipt for the shotgun, which had been purchased only a few hours before he killed her.
I later learned that he had also killed his wife a few years before that, but had never been prosecuted. He claimed the shooting had been accidental, and that it occurred when he was cleaning his gun. She was shot in the back. She had told her daughters that she was leaving him. The detective on my mom’s case told me that he had never believed that her death was accidental, but that they didn’t have enough evidence to prosecute him.After learning about this other murder, I wondered: “Why on earth was someone allowed to purchase a gun to kill my mother after he had already killed someone with a gun?” Accidental or intentional, this person was clearly not someone who should be allowed to purchase or own a firearm. I remain extremely angry about this today, 15 years later. The lack of better gun laws failed my mother, my sisters, my dad, and me.
My life became very difficult after that. The grief was overwhelming. I had always been a good student, and I did manage to finish medical school and my residency. However, when I wasn’t working, I was filled with intense sadness and anger.
I attended support groups for homicide survivors. I moved far away from my hometown. Time eventually did heal me, but it took about 13 years. I’m a mom now. I have a wonderful husband and 3 boys ages 8, 6, and 3. It has been a long process to get here, and I miss my mom every day. The tragedy in Newtown has impacted me very deeply. Much of my grief has returned. I think about the Newtown victims and the long road ahead for their families.
— Stephanie Koski