15 July 2014
Brandie Harris’s life seemed to be on the right track. This single mother of two young girls was able to purchase a modest HUD foreclosed home – just the right size for herself and her daughters. She had a job that was paying the bills and was in school, working towards a bachelor’s degree in business administration. Then, on a tragic morning last August, everything changed. Harris’s aunt, Crystal Trent of Fork Union, was shot by her estranged boyfriend Jerry Palmer, who then killed himself.
It was Harris’s mother who called to tell her the news – her aunt had been shot, and Harris needed to go to her aunt’s house to see what was happening. “I got down there and saw the police cars and my heart just dropped,” said Harris. “I told myself, ‘She is going to be okay’ – and then they took her away by helicopter.” Harris was with her family at the hospital, waiting for her aunt to come out of surgery, when she received a call from Fluvanna Social Services-- Trent had listed her as the children’s emergency contact. She arranged for a family member to pick the children up from school and take them to her home. “They have been here ever since,” said Harris. Trent died from her injuries the next day. In that instant, Trent’s children were orphaned.
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