On the evening of October 13, 2002, 16 year old teenager Devyn Jude Murphy was stabbed to death in a house party in Wareham, Massachusetts. There was an altercation at the party which was attended by around 50 people, yet no one has come forward with any information. According to family members, Murphy had aspirations of becoming a chiropractor. It is believed that there are several people that may know who killed the teen, but either are afraid or refuse to come forward. If you have any information about who murdered Devyn Jude Murphy please contact the Massachusetts State Police at (508) 759-4488. All calls can be confidential.
♦ Article Published 10/14/08 – Source Below ♦
→ 52-year-old Anne Murphy of Onset never got to say goodbye to her son. Five years ago the Sandwich High School student went to a party and never came home.
MURPHY: My son Devyn Murphy was killed; he was 16 years old. He was 45 days into his 16th year, and he went to a party and he was stabbed. Every belief that you ever had about God or anything, it changes. There is before and after — before your child’s death and after your child’s death and family member. And you are not the same person.
Murphy doesn’t remember much of the first year after Devyn was murdered. She is mother to two other children, and she was left afraid, she said, walking around like a zombie with only her son’s death and her own guilt filling her head and sickening her stomach.
MURPHY: The first year is a real blur. At first you are thinking, my child is at camp. My child is on vacation. And then the reality starts to set in. The pain, it’s like being on fire from the inside out. And it doesn’t stop. It’s a descent to hell.
And murder, Murphy says, comes with a stigma. Several family members of murder victims interviewed for this story all say the same thing: when they talk about the murder, people seen to automatically place at least some of the blame for the crime on the victim, assuming they were in a gang or were involved in something underhanded or illegal that contributed to their death.
MURPHY: There is a feeling that the victim that was killed might have done something to get themselves killed. And there is a stigma to murder, people don’t want to talk about murder. Uh, you feel stigmatized — my child was the one who was murdered. And people feel, “Oh, they must be in a gang or they must have done something wrong that this would happen to them. Surely there must be some dark secret or some dark side of these people that this would come into their lives.”
48-year-old Bill Belanger sits across from Murphy as she speaks about her son’s death and he nods along.
BELANGER: Listening to Anne, it’s incredible, because if I were to follow her I would have said, “Ditto.” I mean, Ditto. Bravo, Anne.
Belanger is part of a Parents of Murdered Children support group in southern New Hampshire. He’s a big guy, large in stature and imposing. But he’s obviously broken by grief. He came to Cape Cod to support Murphy and the members of the POMC chapter here. Belanger and his wife Gina lost their daughter Erin to a murderer in Florida four years ago. She was 22, and their only child.
BELANGER: I remember at my first meeting asking people like, “Do you people want to take the ones who killed your son or daughter and strangle them to death”? And they are like, “Oh, yeah.” These people understand. All the hatred and the grief, they understand it. To me, it is my opium.
Bellanger is filled with anger, guilt and regret, he says. His daughter Erin wanted to escape the cold New England winters, so Belanger says he encouraged her to move to Florida and live near her grandmother there. She had a job, was renting a house and starting her life as a young adult.
BELANGER: It was a mass murder. Everyone in that house was killed. They were beaten with baseball bats and knives. I couldn;t give her an open casket. I had to cremate her because the damage was so bad, it was just horrible.
For Belanger, the POMC group has been a life-saver. It gives him an outlet to channel his grief and anger and advocate against the injustice he sees surrounding the issue of murder. He hates for the meetings to end, he says, and he feels safe spending time with people who understand his pain and want to prevent other parents from experiencing a similar loss.
BELANGER: When we get together and have our meetings, we hug each other. We give each other a hankie, but we are doing this so we don’t have to hug you one day. We are doing this so we don’t have to hug you one day. We don’t want to do that. And I think everyone here can agree to that. We don’t want to give you a hug one day. So that is why I do it.
David Flood of Ipswich is involved with the same POMC chapter as Belanger. He says that in addition to offering comfort and support, the group also helps victims find a way to channel their emotions into advocacy. But still, no one, they say, even the politicians don’t want to talk about murder.
FLOOD: Clearly something is broken and we don’t know how to fix it yet.
Before meeting for an interview, Flood and Belanger say they both experienced a typical response while chatting over a cup of coffee in Woods Hole.
FLOOD: The tendency is to turn off when you hear Parents of Murdered Children. Like, we were down at this restaurant, nice sunny day, tourists all around. We started talking about it, and then we mentioned the group: Parents of Murdered Children. And there wasn’t a French fry crunched on that property for five minutes after we said Parents of Murdered Children. Who wants to talk about that on a nice day? Really weird.
While the pain and emotion associated with their losses may be similar, every murder is different, with varying circumstances and judicial outcomes. Four men were charged in Erin’s death, Belanger says, and the man who actually killed her is awaiting the death penalty. In Anne Murphy’s case, police think they know who did it, but no one has ever been charged with killing Devyn. Murphy says the lack of prosecution is just another senseless, inexplicable twist in the story of her son’s untimely death. But both Murphy and Belanger say they’ve reached the point in their grief where they want to affect change. They want to honor their children’s lives and work until no other parents suffer the way they have.