Clifford & Anita Marshall would like to express their deepest appreciation to the wonderful people who turned out today for Mary's Memorial Tribute. The event was highlighted by dignitaries of the law enforcement community that included Marshall Police Chief Jim Schwartz, Calhoun County Sheriff Al Byam, Calhoun County Prosecutor Susan Mladendoff, D/Lt. Scott McDonald, and Michigan State Police D/Sgt. Mike Salman. In attendance and speaking on the issue of domestic violence were Michigan House Rep. Kate Segal, Jennifer Fopma, Executive Director of S.A.F.E. Place, and Karren Kraemer of the Broken Wings Foundation in Wisconsin. Also discussing Mary's life was Sheryl Tuck, office manager of Day One Family HealthCare, which was Mary's employer in Battle Creek. All the people were quite moved with the slide presentation of Mary's life from infancy to the last known photograph of her that was taken with Cliff & Anita on December 31, 2003. Three months and twelve days later she reportedly walked away from her Waldon Pond apartment, and was never seen or heard from again. Her fiance, Christopher Luke Pratt, at the time waited 44 hours to call Mary's parent's in California and ask if they had seen her? He is now serving a prison sentence of 5-15 years for a domestic assault on a more recent girl-friend. He is eligible for release in February 2012.
A letter was read to the audience from Mary's older sister, Gina, who resides in California about the loss of Mary to her family.
After the tribute, Cliff & Anita released one gold "star" balloon with a card attached bearing Mary's picture and the date she disappeared, March 12, 2004. It blew over the church and disappeared to the north.
A special thanks must be given to Bishop Jeremy Hyde, and his staff, of the Dexter Lake Church of God in Battle Creek. These are the individuals responsible for making this ceremony a success.
The police officials made it clear that solving Mary's case was a priority, as well as continued public awareness on the national tragedy of domestic violence. If you are willing, please make a donation to S.A.F.E. Place in Battle Creek in Mary's name. By doing so, you will honor her memory and help them with needed funds for the shelter. As reported, in 2010 they provided 11,000 nights of shelter to 1,600 persons, of which 54% were children.
Battle Creek Enquirer, News Link- March 13, 2011
On April 13, 2011 the parent's of Mary Denise Lands will be present in the probate courtroom of Calhoun County Judge Michael Jaconette and ask that their daughter be officially declared deceased. Although this may be the last time that the public will hear from Mary's parents, rest assured that we will never give up in seeking to bring to justice the person/s responsible for the disappearance and murder of Mary Denise Lands.
We will bring Mary home!
Update- March 18, 2011-The Marshall's and I met with Emmett Township Public Safety Director Mike Olson this morning, and again like all our meetings with law enforcement it was very positive and productive. As much as Mike wanted to attend last week's event he was absent because of illness. He is however, like all of us committed to solving this case and bringing Mary home.
Thank you Chief.
(Photo-The Marshall's, by Trace Chrinstenson, Battle Creek Enquirer)