The tale told by the parents of the mom murdered by dad MICHAEL LOFTUS in 1991 is utterly horrifying. Not only did they lose their daughter, they lost their granddaughter, although Grandma had been providing care for her while Mom was working.
In their infinite wisdom, the Department of Social and Health Services decided to place the child with the PATERNAL grandparents (the ones who had done such a bang-up job of raising their son). Of course, visits with the MATERNAL grandparents soon became "tightly restricted" (because that's what abusers do--isolate victims).
And then because dad was only convicted of vehicular homicide and not murder (presumably because there wasn't enough evidence), he gets out of prison after only 44 months and TAKES CUSTODY.
Now an adult, the daughter has just recently reunited with the maternal grandparents. Not much is said here about her years with dad--only that the few photos she had of her mother she found in the trash where Dad threw them (typical of an abuser/killer--it's not enough to kill the victim, you have to erase her very existence.) And that the daughter is NOW IN HIDING FROM THE FATHER. The reasons are not spelled out, but one can guess.
What a sick world we live in when killer daddies can get custody of defenseless children.
Annual 'Survivors' vigil is Friday
Wednesday, September 23, 2009 11:50 PM PDT
By Leslie Slape
It’s been 18 years since Karen and Bill Thomas’s daughter Christiane was killed by her husband, Michael Lofthus, in Vancouver.
“Chrissy was our only daughter,” said Karen Thomas in a recent interview at her home in Longview. “We’ll never get over it.”
But in the support group Survivors of Murder and Vehicular Homicide Victims, she’s found a connection with people “suffering the same way as you.”
On Friday, the Survivors group will hold its ninth annual vigil for victims of violent death as part of the National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims.
This year’s memorial gathering is at 7 p.m. Friday at the Red Lion, 510 Kelso Drive, Kelso. The public is welcome.
“It’s pretty moving, their celebration that they have,” Thomas said.
Group founder Delores Cook of Kelso, whose granddaughter, Krystle Cook, was murdered in 2000 by Michael Andes, said survivors of any victim of violent death are welcome to the gathering. The keynote speaker will be Detective Louie Martinez of the Santa Ana (Calif.) Police Department, who is assigned to the department’s Homicide Cold Case Unit.
“It’s not just for murder victims,” Cook said. “We’d like to bring in survivors of people killed in 9/11, war victims, people lost in war — to me it’s all violent.”
For the Thomases, the violence not only ended their daughter’s life, it separated them from their granddaughter.
Samantha, now 20, was 16 months old on Jan. 26, 1991, when her father, Michael Lofthus, dragged her mother behind a truck outside their trailer in Vancouver.
“She died the next morning,” Karen Thomas said. Christiane was six months pregnant with her second child, who died with her.
Although Christiane had an injury in the back of the head, police could not find the weapon used to strike the blow and therefore didn’t have enough evidence to prove a murder charge, Thomas said. Lofthus pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide and was sentenced to 44 months in prison.
Thomas said she took care of Samantha while Christiane was at work. After her daughter’s death, though, the state Department of Social and Health Services placed Samantha with Lofthuses’ parents in Skamania.
“We don’t understand why it went that way,” she said.
After a year of tightly restricted visits, the Thomases said they couldn’t deal with it anymore. They stopped seeing Samantha and moved around a lot.
“We were just half out of our minds, I guess you could say,” she said. They moved to Longview from Vader in 2007.
They knew that after Lofthus got out of prison, he remarried and raised Samantha, but the Thomases didn’t know where their granddaughter lived.
In March, their son Ed helped them track down Samantha, who had also been searching for them. They spoke on the telephone.
“We had goosebumps,” Karen Thomas said.
She learned that Samantha is married and has a toddler — a daughter who’s about the same age she was when her mother died.
“She’s been hiding from her father,” Thomas said, asking that Samantha’s surname and location not be published.
When members of Survivors of Murder and Vehicular Homicide Victims heard the story, they wanted to help the family reunite, Cook said.
A member of the group who wished to remain anonymous paid for Samantha’s family to fly to Longview in June to meet the Thomases.
“We had a five-day visit,” Karen Thomas said. “It was rough on us. She looked like her father — that was hard to take — but she had her mother’s eyes.”
Samantha was interested in her grandparents’ family photo albums because she only had a few pictures of her mother, which she retrieved from the trash after her father tossed them out, Thomas said.
“She got to see (pictures of) her mother when she was growing up,” she said. Thomas pointed to a photo Samantha gave her of herself when she was about 6, grinning with missing front teeth.
“She looks like our daughter here,” she said.
The Thomases’ reunion with Samantha proves that “good things happen that make it worthwhile” to keep the Survivors group active, said group member Barbara Norris of Kelso.
“Delores puts all this effort in holding it together and reaching out to people,” she said.
In addition to Martinez, the Day of Remembrance will include a speech by Lori Williams, aunt of Krystle Cook, and then the microphone will be open to anyone who wishes to share memories of victims of violent death. Kay Olson, Brenda Havlic, Gordon Painter and MacKenzie Thornquist will sing.
The evening will conclude with a candlelight vigil. Those attending are encouraged to bring photos of lost loved ones.
“Sometimes that’s the only chance a family member or friend has to have a memory of their loved ones,” said Norris, whose son and grandson, Steven and Brady Norris, were killed in 1991 by a drunken driver, Delbert Denman.
“Some people go for years without being able to say, ‘Hey, I love them and I miss them. It shouldn’t have happened.’ ”