Our child, Avielle, was beautiful, funny, intelligent and spirited. She was courageous and kind. She was fiercely loyal. We are fiercely loyal to her.
No child should be reduced to a picture of her death. We choose to keep our memory of Avielle a healthy one. Releasing the photos and 911 audio of our loved ones killed on Dec. 14 would do just that, reduce who they are to a photo and a scream. These are not healthy images or sounds.
We live in an age where social media can disseminate information worldwide in the blink of an eye. And once these images and sounds are out, they can be used in nefarious ways, and never be retrieved.
We will not stop fighting to protect our daughter's image, memory or her legacy. We want you to protect her in death the way we could not in life.
These images and 911 sound bites will serve absolutely no useful or productive purpose — frankly this seems obvious to us on many levels.
We cannot stand the thought of seeing the graphic depiction of our child's death promoted to serve anyone's political purposes. For example, the documentary film maker Michael Moore began what was, to us, a horrific campaign to make the crime scene photos public on the grounds that it would incite action on gun legislation. We do not want our child to be collateral damage in a partisan, political fight.
Further, the photo and sound bite release will fan the flames of those obsessed by murder. The Sandy Hook shooter was obsessed with and collected mass murder information and photos from around the world. Release will only titillate the prurient interests of those obsessed with viewing anything that visualizes gore and the destruction of precious and pure life.
Finally, the release of the photos and 911 sounds will be profoundly harmful by further traumatizing us and our community.
Our community runs deep and strong. We have lived in many states across this country and people from all over our land knew and loved Avielle. We also feel connected to the generous and kind strangers who sent us thousands of cards and letters on behalf of themselves and their children. Multiply that level of community by 26 families, and then again by every single family in Sandy Hook who was directly affected and you have just the beginning of the universe that would be further traumatized by seeing the inhuman ugliness of the crime scene. The release will have adverse effects not only on those directly impacted at Sandy Hook Elementary, but also by millions of others, especially children, who, because of the ubiquitous nature of the press and social media today, will see the pictures and hear the sounds of our children's terror as they died.
We know this type of crime will happen again. It may not be in Connecticut, but does that matter? No. The world knows of this notorious crime. If these pictures and sound bites are used for political fodder — legislators have failed. If one of the next mass murder crime investigators finds pictures of our dead children or sounds of their terror in the murderer's possession — they have failed. If our communities are further traumatized — they have failed.
Jennifer Hensel and Jeremy Richman's 6-year-old, Avielle, was one of 20 students and six educators killed in a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. The Connecticut General Assembly is considering a law that prevents the release of some information in to the case.