Homicide Support Group

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One violent crime occurs every 17 seconds in this country … leaving thousands of people struggling with the effects.  It’s a startling statistic that United Methodist Bruce Cook understands too well.  He’s a member of a support group whose loved ones have been murdered.  It’s a struggle every week to help people become better … not bitter.

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Nat Sound / Support Group: “My mother was murdered in September 1995.”

Nat Sound / Support Group: “He was beaten and robbed and killed.”

Each member of this Atlanta support group shares an indescribable pain – the murder of a family member.

Shelia Dates / Family Member Murdered: “They strangled my daughter at home in my bed. You never stop grieving; you never stop hurting.”

Shelia Dates’ daughter was brutally murdered four years ago.

Shelia Dates: “No one could ever have a clue as to the pain.”

She turned to this United Methodist ministry for help.

The Rev. Bruce Cook / Family Member Murdered: “And talking about it, talking it out and talking it though, allows you to get better instead of bitter. It’s a very healing, cathartic thing.”

Rev. Bruce Cook began these deadly discussions 14 years ago as a way of dealing with his own grief.

The Rev. Bruce Cook: “In September of 1977, my stepbrother was beaten to death. Once that event occurs, it makes you a member of a club you never want to join.”

Joann Thomas / Family Member Murdered: “The people outside of these rooms don’t understand.”

Joann Thomas is here to work through her granddaughter’s senseless death. Sierra Soto was killed when a man deliberately slammed his car into her preschool playground.

Joann Thomas “And there is nothing worse than hearing someone say, ‘Oh, it’s been two years already. You should—you need to—get over it.’ That’s not what you hear from the group.”

Group prayer: “We want to be renewed and alive and survive this crime.”

Group members find new strength when they’re able to channel anger and energy into something positive.

Shelia Dates: “When I realized I wasn’t alone, there were other people that I could comfort, help, my pain seemed to begin to ease. There is some good that comes out of this, and my loved one’s death was not in vain.”


In addition to leading the weekly crime victim’s support group, Cook works with the United Methodist Church’s Crime Victims Advocacy Council offering training and support.  The council operates a 24-hour victim’s hotline; care for families and individuals and a crime prevention program for schools, churches and businesses.