Crime victim helps others cope in New Orleans
Jun 19, 2009
For Preston, the call informing her about the murder of her husband came in September 2003, while she was in South Africa. Her husband, James Saporito, 38, and his mother, Patrina Saporito, were killed in the elderly woman's Mid-City home. The house had been set on fire after the Saporitos were brutally attacked. Both were stabbed repeatedly, while James Saporito was also shot in the head.
From Laura Maggi's article in Nola.com: It took six months for NOPD detectives to arrest suspects Paul and Cheryl Willis, Patrina Saporito's longtime tenants who owed a year of back rent. But Paul Willis, who was charged with two counts of first-degree murder, died in October 2004 of a ruptured peptic ulcer at Orleans Parish Prison.
Arson and obstruction of justice charges were dropped against Cheryl Willis after she agreed to participate in a "restorative justice" process overseen by a mediator, Preston said. In the guidebook, Preston wrote about her experience of communicating with Cheryl Willis, although she didn't use her name, saying the process was cathartic.
"I found this to be tougher and more emotional work than I imagined, " she wrote. "However, despite my resistance to it, there was information I'm convinced I would never have received otherwise."