Losses, grief bring families together | VailDaily.com

Losses, grief bring families together

Mike Peters
Vail CO, Colorado
Bret Hartman/Special to the DailyMike Tournai, left, laughs with Howard Morton, head of Families of Homicide Victims and Missing Persons, Friday, June 15, 2007, at Bingo Planet in Greeley, Colo. Tournai's daughter, Tina Sandoval, has been missing for 11 years. Tournai was the bingo caller at the venue.

GREELEY, Colo. (AP) ” It’s a feeling they share with only a few others. A hole in their lives that may never be filled.

Families of Homicide Victims and Missing Persons have banded together across the state to find answers. In Greeley and Weld County, these families gather to talk, to share, to cry.

They’ve lost family members and may never know the reason.

Don and Jerri Reichert of Greeley are part of this club in which no one wants to belong. Their son, Michael Reichert, was 36 when he was murdered on West Colfax Avenue in Denver seven years ago. No one has been arrested, no witnesses have come forward, no one has stepped up for the $50,000 reward offered by the family.

Jerri still cries when she talks of the case, and Don is still angry.

“We get phone calls every once in a while, when someone just says ‘I know who did it,”‘ Don said. “But they won’t talk to the police, and Denver police don’t pay much attention to the case anymore.”

Michael’s brother, Mark Reichert, was the Colorado president of the “Families” group and has dealt with many people in Weld County and the state who suffer like his own family.

“After a murder like that, it changes your life. You can’t get out of bed, you want to talk about it, but it’s hard ” it either rips a family apart or brings them together.”

There are several families in Weld in the same position as the Reicherts:

” Mike and Mary Ellen Tournai of Windsor have one the worst of the experiences of families of victims. Their daughter, Tina Tournai Sandoval, was 23 when she disappeared almost 12 years ago. She’s never been found, and her parents now accept her death. They hope someday, her body will be found.

On Friday nights, Mike Tournai is the bingo caller for the “Families.”

” Ramona Martinez of Greeley still hasn’t found the answers to her brother’s murder 13 years ago. He was found on Aug. 27, 1994, under a railroad bridge in Denver. He’d been stabbed, his wallet and shoes stolen. Martinez is still angry with Denver police, who didn’t seem to care about investigating the murder, she said.

” Joe Anderson of Jamestown, N.D., was found murdered and his body was placed in the trunk of his own car in 1991. His brother, Bob Anderson of Greeley, went to North Dakota when police couldn’t solve the murder. He hired his own investigator, talked to friends, family and the media in the town. The case still isn’t solved. “We were lucky to find Families of Homicide Victims,” Bob said of himself and his wife. “We’re just families trying to find answers.”

” Alma Anderson, wife of Bob, is also dealing with her family’s unsolved murder. Her nephew, Donald Ova, 32, was murdered in Poudre Canyon, west of Fort Collins in December 1984. “There’s a suspect in the case,” Alma Anderson said, “but nobody’s ever been arrested. They’ve never found the evidence.”

All these unsolved murders plague the families and draw them closer to others who have losses. “We can get together and share ideas,” Don Reichert said. “And we hope we can raise money through bingo to help find the murderers.”

In the Reichert case, the group helped place a billboard on West Colfax, at the site where Michael Reichert was murdered. The billboard showed Michael’s face and offered a $50,00 reward. Yet, nearly seven years later, no one has come forward with information in the case.

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