Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Jennifer Hampton: Coming Home for the Last Time

After medical examiners identified the body found in the lake as that of Jennifer Lee Hampton, her family in Lauderdale County began to make funeral arrangements. At first, family members were concerned over a lack of funds, but individuals who had never met Jennifer stepped in and took over.

Police departments between Knox County, Tennessee, and Lauderdale County, Alabama, escorted the former homecoming queen's body to the Morrison Funeral Home in the Central Community. KK Edgil-Hargett who works with rape victims and their families assisted the Hampton family in getting a reduced rate from the funeral home. Even as Shoals residents came forward to aid the family locally, stunned residents of Knoxville had begun their own efforts to collect funds for Jennifer's family.

After Jennifer was laid to rest in a private ceremony on October 2, 2008, it had become clear that the initial expenses had been more than taken care of by the generous outpourings of those who had never met Jennifer during her short life; but others, still in shock at the brutal murder, wanted to contribute.

Two female Lauderdale deputies initiated a nursing scholarship at Northwest Shoals Community College in Jennifer's honor. Bette Terry, a Registered Nurse who also works with rape victims, had already begun a fund in Jennifer's memory. Tina Parker, current candidate for Colbert County District Judge, assisted with the collection of funds and suggested memorializing Jennifer in the next Safeplace fundraiser. When it became apparent that the minimum funding to enter the walk would fall short, a Florence businessman who wished to remain anonymous contributed the difference. Jeff Miller designed the tee-shirts, and on April 4, 2009, a team honoring Jennifer Hampton participated in the annual Safeplace Walk-a-Mile-for-a-Child.

Jennifer Lee Hampton now lives on in the memories of those who knew and loved her. We hope those who have contributed in her memory to scholarships and the eradication of violence toward women know that they also have ensured Jennifer's memory will influence future generations of young women.

FYI: For those who have asked, there are a few copies of Nick Winn's book Life with the Canalers on sale at Bank Independent in Killen. They are $20.00 and no tax is charged. We urge you to get one of these few remaining copies.