Gina, Shaun and Joshua

Gina Marie Lupson-Holden-Young, June 1, 1967-June 9, 1993
Shaun Edward Lupson-Holden, December 1, 1989-June 9, 1993
Joshua Lee Lupson-Young, November 10, 1992-June 9, 1993
(click above on Gina, Shaun or Joshua's name and read their birthday wishes)

In the rising of the sun and in its going down, we remember them.
As long as we live, they too shall live, as we remember them.

I have a story to share — a story about my 26-year old daughter, Gina Marie, my 3-year old grandson, Shaun Edward, and my 7-month old grandson, Joshua Lee. They were murdered in an arson fire in Jeannette, PA on June 9, 1993. My son-in-law has been found guilty of this dreadful act of violence and is serving three consecutive life sentences.

All this — four lives totally destroyed — because of domestic violence.

In 1993, 135 people died as a result of domestic violence in Pennsylvania — Gina, Shaun, Joshua —they were three of those murders. The same year in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania (where the crime took place) 7 people died as a result of homicide — Gina, Shaun, Joshua — they were three of those homicides. In fact, when the local paper did their year end highlights it reported the following:

The coroner's office investigated 7 deaths it classified as homicides. Of those victims, 4 were male and 3 were female. Two of the male victims were boys classified as 10 years old or younger.

Shaun, Joshua — they were those two boys.

Who is the victim of this hideous crime? To answer that question you have to look at the complete picture.

They call me a surviving-victim of a homicide (I've always thought that to be a contradiction of words — How does one survive a homicide?).

My daughter and grandsons are like a pebble thrown in a pond — the ripples that produce the circle from the pebble just keep going. I — as a mother and grandmother — and my husband — as a father and grandfather — have lost our first-born and only daughter and our two beautiful grandsons. Our son has equally lost — he no longer has a sister — he now is an only child.

Gina's grandparents and the boy's great-grandparents — their aunts and uncles — even their extended family of cousins have lost. These deaths will always be a scar on their hearts.

The circle from this pebble continues — our friends and acquaintances have all been touched by this tragedy.

As we watch the circle spread we see Gina, Shaun, and Joshua's friends and neighbors. The trauma will always haunt them because they witnessed these three young people perish the night of the inferno.

As the circle progresses is has also touched the family, extended family, and friends of our son-in-law. This too has had an impact on their lives.

And the circle goes on, and on, and on — even to our country losing the future contributions from these three human beings.

But as we extend our gaze to this far-reaching ripple — let's not forget the pebble that began this circle — what started this unbelievable nightmare: the murder of my kids — they are the true victims. They are the ones who are no longer with us. They are the ones that endured the horror the night of the fire.

How did all this begin?

It started with my daughter looking for the American dream — looking for the house, with the white picket fence, two cars in the garage, kids, a dog in the yard and a wonderful husband. After she graduated from high school she began the search. She first found the husband and had a child — Shaun Edward was born December 1, 1989 in Maryland. This marriage ended in divorce.

The story continues — she gets involved with another guy — he decides that the "grass is greener" in Pennsylvania — the dream package is waiting for them there. That was in February 1991.

It wasn't long before I got a phone call that this "friend" had beaten up Gina during a birthday party that she had given him. He had hit her, bit her on the arm and punched her several times in the stomach. The stomach punches had the most relevance to me — she was pregnant with child # 2. The police were called, Gina went to the hospital, and her friend went to jail.

Now comes the next day — Gina decides he didn't mean it — he had been drinking — so all is forgiven — she doesn't press charges — she doesn't file a protection from abuse form (PFA). Isn't it amazing how the bright sun light makes everything look tolerable — he was in control.

All was quiet for awhile — the pregnancy held — but the American dream was dwindling. Gina's friend — as well as Gina — were having trouble holding jobs. Money became an issue. It was their decision to give this baby up for adoption. Gina searched and found a couple in California that wanted to adopt this baby. She left Pennsylvania for a few months to give birth to baby # 2. During her time in California she had decided not to go back to Pennsylvania — she was going to come home. Wait a minute — the guilt started with her — maybe if I try harder; maybe if I did just what he wanted; maybe if Shaun was a better child; maybe if I got a better job; maybe if I kept the house better; maybe....maybe....maybe. Gina and her friend weren't married yet so legally there was nothing stopping her — just her desire to try one more time — to do better.

There was little talk during this time as to what her friend might do better — through Gina's eyes all the maybes were with her.

So back to Pennsylvania she and Shaun go — searching for that American dream. Her friend won — he was back in control.

Things continued to get worse; credit problems; being fired from jobs; Shaun being sick; and the violence continued.

It wasn't long before they announced that another baby was expected.

During the next few months there seemed to be more verbal abuse — coming from both of their mouths. One of my "pat" responses to Gina — when she would call about these verbal battles — was "walk away — he can't fight by himself" — of course that didn't happen — the warfare continued. The house became a battle field.

Even during all this fighting they decided to get married. The marriage was disclosed to us after the fact. When she told me she said — "I didn't think you would approve." She was right. I guess now he was officially our son-in-law.

November 10, 1992 sweet Joshua Lee was born.

Then came another life threatening battle. In January 1993 — around two in the morning we got a phone call from a police officer that told us that our son-in-law had tried to kill our daughter — he threw her up against the wall, tied a telephone cord around her neck, hit her several times, bit her numerous times, and threatened to shoot her. It was Shaun that was her savior — he ran out of the house in his bare feet and PJs and went to a neighbor yelling for help — he was three years old. Our son-in-law was arrested and preparations began for Gina to file a PFA.

The phone wires were hot with her calling us and us calling her to see what the next step would be. Our son-in-law got out of jail and spent some time with his family — but in the end — Gina let him come back — never appearing for the PFA hearing. Again all the maybes kept echoing in her head — along with how will I take care of two kids by myself. Again he won — again he was in control.

More months, more fighting, more tears.

In May 1993 our phone rang. It was Gina — she told her father that she wanted to come home — she's had it — it was not going to ever work — he was never going to change. It seemed they had another fight and our son-in-law threatened to take the two kids from her. These were words Gina understood — it seems you could abuse her but don't mess with her kids. This battle ended again in bloodshed — however, it wasn't Gina's — it was our son-in-law's . Gina busted his nose.

Her father told her to get in her car and head home.

Gina packed the car, was preparing to leave when our son-in-law returned to the scene and continued the threat about the kids — he would have her picked up on the turnpike, he would take the kids and she would never see them again. Bottom line — she stayed.

One month later, Wednesday June 9, 1993, our son-in-law poured gasoline in the living room, up the stairs, and right into Gina's bedroom, lit a match, and walked away — walked away with not a burn on his body; walked away with no carbon monoxide in his lungs; walked away while my daughter and two grandsons died in the inferno.

The cycle of domestic violence was now complete — he now had the ultimate form of control — Gina, Shaun, Joshua — they were now the silent witnesses to murder.

It was seconds of terror that forever changed the world — That's when their lives ended — and when the nightmare for our family began.

Gina had gotten the little house, the two cars, the kids, and even the dog. The only thing is — she married a man that needed total power and control over her — he made his choice and he never thought of the consequences.

It was seven months and three days before our son-in-law was arrested — it would be another year and a half before he would go to trial — it was another 42 days of listening to Gina, Shaun, and Joshua dying all over again and watching our son-in-law still be in control. I can remember so clearly being called into the court room and the jury coming in with the verdict. I have never been able to put words to those emotions — all I know was my mind was going a thousand miles a second — I think I relived every second of Gina, Shaun, and Joshua's lives in those few minutes — time stood still — and then it came — guilty! Guilty on all counts. The sentencing — three consecutive life sentences without the chance of parole.

My son-in-law is no longer in control of my daughter. As he sits in his brown cell dressed in his brown clothes the only one he can control now is himself. He isn't controlling our lives any more. The world's violence has leaked into our home which is to be a safe place. Through all this we are forever changed but we are continuing. We know our son-in-law is no longer in control of my daughter and grandsons — they are now sleeping with the angels.

Thank you for allowing me to share my story with you — a story about a mother and her two boys — a story that changed our family in the second it took to strike a match.

Every story has a moral — this one being no different. The lesson we can all take away from hearing about Gina, Shaun and Joshua is — we are all victims of homicide and domestic violence.

I present to you however, victims can make a difference:

The mother of Jamie Paxton of Ohio held a letter writing campaign in the media asking for information about her son's killer. The result was the arrest of a serial killer who had killed three others in addition to Jamie.

Here in Maryland the mother of Stephanie Roper, who was brutally murdered while home from college, worked 15 years to have Maryland law re-written giving victims and surviving victims a string of rights in the court room.

In 1980 the mother of Cari Lightner started a campaign against drunk driving in California. In addition to the establishment of MADD (Mothers against drunk drivers), the results can be seen everyday in practically every high school in the United States when students gather for their SADD (students against drunk drivers) meetings.

In Florida the murder of Adam Walch has propelled his father into a national television show, America's Most Wanted, that has resulted in the arrest of hundreds of wanted felons.

In the highly publicized murder of Nicole Brown-Simpson her family has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to help with the fight against spouse abuse.

I, upon learning that our family would not be able to give verbal impact statements before the jury, began a letter campaign to Governor Ridge. Those letters brought the issue of victim's rights before his eyes once again. The result was a Pennsylvania law passed that victim's and surviving victim's would have the right to give impact statements during the penalty phase of a trial — this making their loved ones real and alive to the jury.

All these examples are legacies to the ones that are the true victims. Their deaths have had a profound impact on others — and their memories will live on via the actions of their families, friends, and by you that have heard this story.

As your mind replays this American tragedy — I request — never forget who the true victims are — it's not the justice system, the press, the laws, the perpetrator, or even the family and friends — it's the people that aren't here to speak for themselves — it's all the Ginas, Shauns, and Joshuas — they are the true victims.

This page last modified Sunday, June 01, 2008
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