Fort Wayne, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) - Remembering the good times, and the bad.
This month marks a painful anniversary for a Fort Wayne family forced to say goodbye to a loved one long before her time.
It’s a story about a horrendous murder that showcased the benefits of a new law enforcement tool in abduction cases.
Connie Hartman and her daughter Aimee Geschwind are pushing ahead with their lives.
But ten years ago, when they got the news from police that 17-year old Cheri Sue Hartman had been killed, in cold blood, their lives came to a grinding halt.
" That's a memory I'll never, ever forget as long as I live. My brother was behind me, I turned around and I beat him," says Connie Hartman, the homicide victim’s mother.
August 19, 2002, three men and two women who knew Cheri Hartman abducted her from outside her home on Sinclair Street.
Six hours later, an emergency Amber Alert was issued, seeking the public's help in locating the missing teen.
It was a first in Indiana.
Sadly, the girl had been stripped naked, shot to death, and her body set on fire before the alert went out.
Does the family resent the delayed plea for help?
" The Amber Alert wouldn't have saved her life either way. So, I think that it was a good practice run if you want to say that, " says Geschwind, Cheri Hartman’s sister.
In fact, the Amber Alert describing the suspect's vehicle was heard by a motorist who spotted the car on Interstate 69 and reported it to police.
Officers arrested all five, leading to convictions and long prison sentences.
A family member recently posted on Facebook a picture of Cheri, her sister Aimee and Connie, as a tribute.
But in some ways, the family is playing down the anniversary date.
" It's just we need to let things go on, and our lives go on, and I'm doing my best at doing that," says Connie Hartman.
The Hartman clan says it doesn't watch the nightly news on a regular basis. But because of their experience, Connie and Aimee say they have a special empathy for other families who've been put through the pain and suffering of homicide.
Aimee has released bitterness towards the killers.
" Everyone deserves an opportunity to ask for forgiveness and deal with God in their own way," Geschwind says.
Is ten years long enough to get over such a terrible loss?
The Hartman family could find out if a lifetime is long enough.
For more information on the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, you can visit www.missingkids.com.
To view the memorial Facebook page, click here.
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