Oshkosh, WI -- Everyday in the U.S., more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends. A Berlin woman who lost her friend to domestic violence homicide is working to honor her memory and help the children left behind.
Heather Severson is haunted by a horrific crime.
"I have a tough time wondering, you know, how much pain did she go through? How much suffering?"
In December 2009, Tyrone Adair murdered his girlfriend, Tracy Judd, and their 23-month-old daughter, Deja. Their bodies were found in the trunk of his car near Madison.
Six miles down the road, Adair shot to death another mother and daughter inside their garage. 25-year-old Amber Weigel was his ex-girlfriend. 2-year-old Neveah was their daughter together.
A manhunt for Adair lasted four days. It ended when his body was found in Tracy's SUV on private property in Cottage Grove. Adair had shot himself.
Family and friends were surprised to learn that court records showed he had a history of domestic violence.
"It was very shocking," said Tracy's sister, Lisa Blanchard.
Lisa says there were no warning signs that Tracy was in a violent relationship. Nearly five years later, the pain is still raw.
"I miss hearing hearing her voice. I miss her laugh," explained Lisa.
Shortly after the homicides, Lisa and Heather created a non-profit organization. They named it TraJa in honor of Tracy and Deja. It aims to educate the public and law enforcement about the effects of domestic abuse, the warning signs and resources to protect yourself.
Heather says, "We can't save her, but I can save the next Tracy and that is what it's all about."
Heather and Lisa also drafted legislation called the Traja Act. In April 2012, Governor Walker signed it into law. It makes a third domestic violence conviction in 10 years a felony with up to two years in prison.
"The Treja Act was not easy. A lot of people told us no, and we never gave up," said Heather.
Now, the women have moved on to a new project. It's called Traja's Heart. They hope to grant wishes to the children of domestic violence homicides. Tracy left behind her twin daughters, Stephanie and Kayla.
"If there was a game planned, a vacation planned, their upcoming prom, you now things like that, we want to make those a reality," explained Heather.
By making a child's dream come true after losing so much, Heather has a reason to smile again.
"We didn't want to be just a family grieving. We wanted to make a difference and I think we did, and I think Tracy would be very, very proud."
Heather and Lisa hold a TraJa fundraiser every year on Tracy's birthday which is January 14th. Next month, they have two events during a Timber Rattlers' game and a Door County football game.
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