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Victims Visitor's Day offers assistance to victims of violent crimes

Fort Valley State University and the Georgia State Parole Board joined Thursday to host Victims Visitor's Day.

Victims Visitor's Day is an event during which members of the State Parole Board go into the communities where victims reside in order to work with them, listen to their concerns and try to assist them with their needs.

The event aims to give a voice to the families whose lives are affected by violent crimes.

Organizers said they want to help victims become survivors.

Terry Barnard, chairman of the State Board of Pardons and Parole, said someones victims' rights can get lost in the shuffle.

"Victims have said that many times to us, that they go through the trial and then the sentence is handed down, and then there's appeal after appeal, and it seems like they get lost and it becomes more focus on the offender than the victim," Barnard said. "This gives the victim an opportunity to go back to the forefront and get their stories known."

Arleshia Pettigrew was the guest speaker at Thursday's event. Her daughter, Latosha Taylor, was murdered by her ex-boyfriend in 2005 when he doused her with gasoline and set her on fire in Macon.

"I was laying in the bed and the phone rang and a gentleman on the answer machine was saying, 'I have your daughter and she's been burned by her boyfriend,'" Pettigrew said of the night she found out that her daughter had been killed. "And of course I thought it had to be a sick joke."

Pettigrew said sharing her story with other victims' families is something that she enjoys doing.

"I always like sharing the story with other people because because I want other people to realize that they are not alone," she said.

Barnard said the board has been holding events like this all across Georgia since 2006 and have helped over 2400 victims' families.

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