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Manhunt for Canfield teacher's killer

Published: Thu, February 9, 2012 @ 12:01 a.m.



RELATED: • Victim’s fear of suspect Robert McLaughlin was well-documented

• Stacey Sutera harassment stalking timeline

• Mahoning cops say they're limited by the law





  Teacher Killed

CANFIELD — Canfield police responded to a 911 call just after 7 a.m. today, finding Stacey L. Sutera, a 40-year-old science teacher, shot to death in the parking lot of Carriage Hill apartment complex off Fairground Boulevard.

CANFIELD — Canfield police responded to a 911 call just after 7 a.m. today, finding Stacey L. Sutera, a 40-year-old science teacher, shot to death in the parking lot of Carriage Hill apartment complex off Fairground Boulevard.

A 64-year-old man convicted last year of stalking a Mahoning Valley teacher is now being sought for her murder.

Stacey Sutera, 40, was found dead outside of her Carriage Hill Apartments residence just after 7 a.m. Wednesday. She was a science teacher at Mahoning County Career and Technical Center.

Police Chief Chuck Colucci said police are searching for Robert P. McLaughlin, 64, of Marsh Lane, Painesville. An aggravated murder warrant was issued Wednesday afternoon.

Investigators said McLaughlin is driving a rented gray Chrysler Town & Country van with Ohio license plate EZE 9055.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine also is asking for help in finding McLaughlin; the state’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation is assisting the Canfield Police Department, as is the Mahoning Valley Homicide Task Force.

Police described him as ex-military, and armed and dangerous. He is 5-feet-10-inches tall and weighs 190 pounds.

Sutera was found shot to death just outside her condo. Colucci said they believe she was getting into her vehicle when she was shot multiple times. She apparently tried to drive away, and was shot again.

The chief said slugs found at the scene came from more than one gun.

What neighbors say

A male neighbor said, “This morning I thought they were picking up the garbage, then I heard ‘pop pop pop’ — probably five or six gunshots.”

A 13-year-old girl said she was in her bedroom getting ready for school when she heard about six gunshots. She looked out the window but didn’t see anything.

“I heard a crash-type noise and ran downstairs,” she said.

Another neighbor said she looked out the window and saw a man standing by the victim’s car, then saw him walking away. She then lost sight of him.

Craig Tareshawty, owner of several townhouses inside Carriage Hill apartments that surrounded the condominium where the victim lived, said he was “shocked” to hear of the shooting.

He said the property is one of his favorites and heard no complaints of stalking from residents who lived in units he owns.

“My problems at those apartments are few and far between,” Tareshawty said.

He received a call from the resident manager Wednesday morning telling him of the shooting.

He said he did not own the unit where the victim lived at 331 Carriage Lane. Before purchasing Carriage Hill apartments in 1999, he said 39 of the 58 townhouses there were sold as condominiums.

COURT history

McLaughlin went through two courts as the full case against him was prosecuted.

He was sentenced Dec. 17, 2010, to six months in Mahoning County jail after pleading guilty in Mahoning County Area Court in Canfield to misdemeanor charges of menacing by stalking.

He was also indicted on felony charges by a county grand jury in January 2011.

In Mahoning County Common Pleas Court, McLaughlin pleaded guilty to three counts of pandering obscenity and three counts of possessing criminal tools. He was sentenced on Nov. 29, 2011, to five years’ probation, including 500 hours of community service and a $2,500 fine. Judge Maureen A. Sweeney also ordered McLaughlin to take anger-management classes, not possess firearms and have no contact with Sutera.


Police said McLaughlin had been harassing the victim since March 2010 by sending e-mails threatening to reveal personal information about her.

Sutera and McLaughlin met about 15 years ago when her sister brought him to Arizona, where Sutera lived at the time.

After she divorced and moved back to Ohio, Sutera told police she and McLaughlin became close. She described him as a “father figure” in a police report taken by Canfield police in 2010. At that time, Sutera had no knowledge who was harassing her.

In early 2010 Sutera told police McLaughlin began asking her to date him, but she rebuffed his advances.

During the stalking investigation in December 2010, Canfield police found a letter in McLaughlin’s car. It stated: “Bob, I sure do appreciate everything you have done for me. ... If this were a father/daughter relationship it would be nice. If it were a friendship it would be great. It is not either of those, and I don’t know what it is, exactly. ... This friendship is causing more harm than good, especially for you. If you don’t see that you’re in denial. This is not a rejection of you, but a rejection of an unhealthy relationship. I will not be calling you, and I don’t expect you to call me or try to see me.”

A police report based on a search warrant Dec. 8, 2010, at McLaughlin’s home said detectives found photos of Sutera, pornographic material, stacks of papers listing names and addresses of Ohio and Pennsylvania schools, as well as various businesses, computer equipment; and business cards with the victim’s ex-boyfriend’s name on them.

In addition to the e-mails, letters containing a website with fabricated sexual information about the victim and business cards stating the victim would perform specific sexual acts were mailed to business owners, school administrators, and teachers throughout Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties and parts of Pennsylvania, the report said.


Yellow tape surrounded parking lot of the Carriage Hill apartments early Wednesday, as residents stood nearby in snow and waited for any bit of information.

Police, who were on the scene for more than four hours, placed evidence markers on at least 12 spots scattered within the taped-off area.

Colucci said Sutera was first shot as she got into her car, which was parked outside her condo.

It’s likely she tried to escape in her car by driving through the grass, causing her bumper to come off and Sutera to crash into two other cars about 20 feet away.

The rear-view and passenger’s side front windows of the black Volvo were shot out. Police found her dead in the car; her body was then covered with a sheet outside of the vehicle.


Roan Craig, superintendent of Mahoning County Career and Technical Center where Sutera was in her second year as a science teacher, described the mood at the school Wednesday as somber. Grief counselors were on hand and would remain at the school for as long as needed she said.

Sutera was well-liked by students and respected by staff, she said.

“She was a good person and we loved her,” Craig said.

Prior to being hired at MCCTC, Sutera worked just more than a year as a chemistry and physics teacher at Columbiana High School.

“We were sad to see her leave,” said Don Mook, superintendent of Columbiana Exempted Village Schools. “When she had the opportunity to go to the career center I know that’s something she wanted to do. She felt a call to go in that direction, but we were sad to see her go.”

Mook said Sutera was a sweet person.

“She really cared about the kids,” he said. “That’s why she went into education.”

Past homicides

Canfield and Canfield Township are not hotbeds for homicide.

Annette M. Giancola, who was found innocent by reason of insanity in the 1997 bathtub drowning deaths of her twin 3-year-old son and daughter in their Canfield Township residence, died of cancer at age 50 in May 2010.

Giancola, who was in a psychiatric hospital until May 2004, had lived since then in Youngstown, first in a group home and later in a private residence under court supervision. Her death was noted in a judgment entry from Judge Maureen A. Sweeney of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court that officially closed Giancola’s case.

Also contributing: Staff writers Denise Dick, Robert Guttersohn and Peter H. Milliken


1Attis(1129 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

Clearly the courts have no clue on how to handle violent misogynists like this monster. To protect this unprotected victim a judge orders her tormenter to "anger-management" classes. Yeah, that'll do it. Why was this man not jailed or at least forced to be monitored with a GPS device?

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2kensgirl(1056 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

Hey Judge Sweeney - how did it feel to go to work today knowing you let a cold blooded psycho mess back on the streets? Did you sleep well?

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3katydid(2 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

This is so wrong. This monster should have been locked up!! And I just want to say I am OUTRAGED that Canfield Schools did not find is necessary to lock down the schools. I have kids that go there and they didn't even bother to LOCK THE DOORS!! When I called I got, "Oh things are fine, there is no connection to the school" Not pleased Canfield!! They did not even lock the doors!

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4WilliamSwinger(341 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

I love the boys and girls in blue and appreciate their public service and risks taken daily to enforce the law. However, the Police cannot protect you every second of every day. It is not their job. Their job is to investigate crime after the fact and enforce the law once it is broken.

You must protect yourself. This is the essence of SELF DEFENSE and every responsible adult is accountable for their own protection. If you or anyone else is depending on the Police to protect and keep them safe from harm, they are in dereliction of their duties as an adult- PERIOD.

We as private citizens do not need permission from the courts or assistance from the Police or a document from some authority. We already have the both the right and responsibility to protect ourselves- even with deadly force.

It does not appear from this perspective that Stacey did anything to protect herself. She relied on the Courts and on the Police to protect her and this is the outcome. This is the outcome all over this country. Had Stacey taken personal responsibility for her safety, armed herself, trained and prepared for her own defense, she MAY have stood a chance against her attacker. Instead, she was an easy target for a brutal assault.

Please learn from the mistakes made here. Take personal responsibility for the health and safety of yourself and your loved ones. Arm yourself. Train yourself. Prepare to defend yourself from an attacker. Otherwise you do not stand a chance.

More Police are not needed. More responsible, capable, armed and trained citizens that take personal responsibility for their own safety are needed.

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5fcb(460 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

Sweeney Strikes Again!!! I refuse to call her a judge!! She lets another one go and another person is dead.This woman is a piece of crap. How many people are going to have to die before she wakes up or they throw her off the bench!! You can bet your sweet a-- if some one did something against one of her own family they would be in jail.I'am thinking there will be a new swimming pool on the Sweeney property this spring over this one,If you are going to do something wrong and go before Sweeney you had better hurry up because with her record I'am thinking she almost has every thing she needs,but she could always use a second car.This so called judge DISGUSTS ME!! To answer the reader before me,I think that Sweeny sleeps very well at night.You see, you have to have a conscience to have something like this bother you.

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6yng00128(67 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

@katydid...This incedent is not about you or your kids. it was an isolated incedent and no reason to lock schools down. RIP Stacey. Shame on Sweeney and the incompetent judicial system!!!!

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7steelwagon(284 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

Once again Bleeding heart Sweeney fails her obligation to protect the public by letting this sick freak off with a slap on the wrist.
When will is so called judge learn ?

This poor woman lived in fear of this sob and Sweeney knew it and knew this clown was dangerous yet failed to do her job properly....again !!!

This worthless judge has a record of turning dangerous criminals lose on the public.
She needs to be removed from the bench and charged with failing to do her duty if possible.

She's a disgrace to the law abiding public and a friend to every scumbag criminal and hoodrat that appears before her !!!

This needless death could have been prevented had Sweeney done her job properly.....a disgraceful failure once again !!!

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8republicanRick(1716 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

This guy is described as ex-military, but he was also a Post Office retiree. Once they saw he worked for the post office they should have known he would go postal.

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9VINDYAK(1824 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

I wonder what the record is of the number of convicted stalkers who actually follow thru with court orders.

If a stalker knows he is breaking the law when doing what he is doing, what makes one think he will obey new laws and court orders.

Many of our judges today are out of touch with these criminals and believe their orders will be followed because they are the Judge. In essence, their court order was only a free ride to the next criminal event.

This story is not over, and I hate to see where it may end. Whatever happens, it will not be good.

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10dallydoo(3 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

William Swinger you might want to get your story straight. Quotes from a neighbor:
“I seen him down in here sitting, but I didn’t know that it was him,” Moritz said.
Neighbors say Stacey was always worried about her safety, and she took several measures to protect herself.

“She had expressed concern to all of us that she even has a video camera posted outside of her house when she walks out the door. She had all kinds of stuff installed because she was scared, she was very scared,” Moritz said.

Canfield police say McLaughlin is 64 years old, 5’10″, 190 pounds. They say he was driving a rented gray Chrysler Town and Country van. The license plate number is EZE 9055.

Anyone who spots Robert McLaughlin or his van is asked to call Canfield police at (330)533-4903, or the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation at 855-BCI-OHIO. He is considered armed and dangerous and should not be approached

She did take precautions and lived terrified. How about helping out finding the guy???

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11katydid(2 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

@yng00128. I realize it was not about me or kids. But I dont think it is too much to ask to LOCK THE DOOR to ensure the safety of children. Forgive me, but I dont think someone capable of cold-blooded murder would be thinking rationally. If it were YOUR children, I bet you'd understand. And if you have kids there, and you don't? Then there is something seriously wrong with you.

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12sunspotbaby(5 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

If the police cannot protect a woman in this situation they should recommend that she take a gun class and give her a permit to carry. All the news keeps saying is that she could not protect herself against a gun. YES SHE COULD HAVE if she was carrying!! If that were me I would have been packing whether I had a permit to carry or NOT. The police cannot protect you, the court WILL not protect you - WE need to protect ourselves!! I cannot believe that have not found this man YET!!

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13legend33(169 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

Charles Bronson - "Vigelante Justice is the only way to go!"

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14WhatRUAfraidOf(85 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

I figured this story would, unfortunately, bring out the gun nuts, but seriously, do you really think she'd have had a chance to pull out a weapon if she had actually HAD one? This sociopath ambushed her. And, being a teacher, she wouldn't have been able to carry one in school, anyway. What is wrong with you people!

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15sunspotbaby(5 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

If I were being stalked as this woman was I would have had a gun in my hand to and from my car from my house. Yes she was ambushed - but the LAW knew this was an issue and did very little to protect her. I know you can't have a gun at school and you should not have one in your car, but under these circumstances I would have had one in my car. If the LAW is not there for you - and they are NOT - you have to go to whatever lengths you can to protect yourself. If the law had done their job and locked this nut job up - it wouldn't be an issue. But THAT did NOT happen did it? And now they can't even find him - that shows their ability right there!!

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16sunspotbaby(5 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

"In addition to the e-mails, letters containing a website with fabricated sexual information about the victim and business cards stating the victim would perform specific sexual acts were mailed to business owners, school administrators, and teachers throughout Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties and parts of Pennsylvania, the report said."

BUT THIS WASN'T ENOUGH TO PUT THE NUTJOB IN JAIL?? But we shouldn't carry a gun and protect ourselves? Whatever...

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17YoungnGifted(8 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

This is very sad. My prayers to the family and students of the victim.

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18sunspotbaby(5 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

As I posted earlier, a quote about the things this man was doing - that wasn't enough to put him in jail? Obviously it takes a dead body. GREAT legal system.

My prayers go out to the family this is such a tragedy.

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19sunspotbaby(5 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

Just saw on the news this coward killed himself. At least he saved the taxpayers a LOT of money - good riddence.

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20Rooster(80 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

The law said all he was guilty of was "damaging her reputation". The story is all about threats, dog-killing, and ruining a persons life and safety. Whatever genius looked at those facts and came up with that "reputation" line is the whole problem here. Ruining a reputation means you're gossiping. Used to anyway. If it got to the point where the woman is installing cameras, that's when she should have invited him over and shot him. Just saying you can't always depend on the law, specially with some dog-killing nutcase after you.

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21WilliamSwinger(341 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago


Self defense and vigilantism are not equivalent.

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22hellokitty(161 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

Hey Loser, did you ever think that the police cannot be with the victim 24/7. As for your eight years of CC, I'll take the affirmative defense, thank you. You sound like a nutty old broad that would shoot at just about anything that skeeered ya ;)

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23fcb(460 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

The guy killed himself.Stupid. He might have went in front of Sweeney again and she would have put him back on the street in a few days.Don't forget people,he plead GUILTY and she still let him off. Oh right anger management classes,I forgot. Give me a break!! What about the woman who drove around a accident scene,ran over a victim,dragged him hundreds of feet until he was dead!! The great judge gave this one 30 DAYS!! Any one who ever votes for this woman again needs their head examined!! Judge my a--!!

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24sickbythis(2 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

i don't know why i read these comments. so many of them make me mad. if one more person says she should have had a gun i am going to scream. your guys are so right, totally her fault, she should have carried a gun. it is such a smart and legal thing to take a gun to a high school everyday where a student can get it. i am sure that is the right thing to do. even if she owned a gun it would have been left in her home for those reasons and would have done her no good that morning. god forbid anything ever happens to some one you love and you have to read about how it is their fault they were murdered because they didn't protect themselves better. you should be ashamed of yourself. walk in someone's shoes. my thoughts are with her daughter. i hope she is able to find peace through all this. such a shame that their are sick people in this world. and such a bigger shame there are people that actually can't see that.

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25dogandgunlover(1 comment)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

A gun is the great equalizer for a woman. Get one, get a permit, learn how to use it and protect yourselves and your families including your dogs. Judge, you should be ashamed. Read the timeline. He plead guilty. When you're on the bench, have some guts and don't be a sissy. PROBATION. Good God.

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26sickbythis(2 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

also for all you people that say she didn't prepare enough that morning... since you were there and watched how she didn't protect herself why didn't you help her?? oh wait!! you weren't there! you don't know what she did, how she lived or what she went through. stop judging the poor woman!

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27kensgirl(1056 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

I don't think anyone is really judging her - I just think that they're really angry at all the psychos out there getting away with murder. That poor woman did everything she could to protect herself. If someone wants to truly kill another person they're going to do it by hook or crook. Judge Sweeney put the gun in this guy's hand. She should have thrown his ass in prison. Obviously we can't always count on our judicial system to do what's right. Sometimes there's justice and sometimes there's JUST US.

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28WilliamSwinger(341 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago


Suggesting she not take every available step to protect her life is really stupid. Why are you suggesting her life was not worth defending? I think her life was priceless and that no measure would have been too much. And bringing up carrying on school property is even stupider since the murder happened at her HOME, dummy. On that note, we SHOULD have the right to carry on school property, I mean OUR property, also.

Honestly, what is wrong with you and the other people that simply will not accept personal responsibility for your own protection and safety? Is everything somebody else's job to you? And why did you take a CCW class if you didn't intend to be responsible for your own safety?

Dollars to pesos you and all the other limp-wristed anti-gun progressive liberal cowards would change your tune if you ever had a weapon trained on you or a loved one attacked while they were defenseless.

You pansies make me sick.


Let me help you understand. Nobody is saying Stacey is at fault for her murder. Do you get that? We are saying that she should OBVIOUSLY SHOULD NOT HAVE relied on the Courts and Police to save her life. And we are saying this not to criticize Stacey. We are saying it to help the rest of you numbskulls that also fail to realize the same thing. YOU ARE NOT PROTECTED BY THE POLICE AND COURTS. Do you understand that? We each have to protect ourselves. When the moment comes, and I hope it never does for any of you, the whole thing will be over in seconds and the only thing that will stand between you and your death are the steps YOU PERSONALLY TAKE TO PROTECT YOURSELF. Do you understand this simple concept yet?

People die everyday when they realize all too late that they did not prepare enough to save themselves when a terrible event occurs. About to crash without a seatbelt. Awaken to fire and no batteries in the smoke detector. Swim too far from shore and the tide shifts. Ladder slips when you reach for the hammer. Intruder enters an unlocked door. Nutcase stalker who threatened you for years is running toward you with a gun.

This stuff is real folks. Just because it doesn't happen every day and just because it doesn't happen to you doesn't mean it never will.

Prepare. That is all. Prepare. Do you get it yet?

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29WilliamSwinger(341 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago


Educate yourself about the law, dummy. The gun may be locked in the trunk of her car or in a locked box in the passenger compartment if she is in the school. That is the law. You really should read the rules before you comment to avoid looking like an uniformed meat-head.

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30MissMels18(1 comment)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

I do think you are all missing the point of this article. It does not matter now whether or not she had a gun. The argument about whether or not she should have had a gun, or should have relied on the system is invalid now.

to a certain extent, yes, we are meant to rely on the system. From a young age, we are taught to call the police if we need help. We are told to run to an adult, or a being of higher statute than our own.

Hell yes the system is extremely flawed, and this judge should have locked the man away. However, fighting about that now, will not bring back Miss Sutera. Her family, and students like myself and my best friend are reading this, and we hardly want to see all of your fighting about her lapse in protection, or obvious error in the judicial system. It is an awful tragedy. We should be mourning her loss, and not fighting about things we cannot change now.

RIP Miss Sutera. Gone But Never Forgotten

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31Rooster(80 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

Sorry Miss Mels, you say your upbringing taught you to rely on the police, but now that you're grown up must realize that only works most of the time. Didnt work in this situation for this poor woman, and doesn't work in most other predator situations either. No one blames the poor woman at all, but just saying if anyone else is in this kind of mess, it's a good idea to have some otther things in your tool box besides cameras, good citizenship and a restraining order. I don't think it was practical for this lady to pack a gun all the time, but somehow this predator needed neutralized and he wasn't afraid of restraining orders. Wasn't afraid of her having a gun either, even gave her one back when he was playing the friendly adviser and she didn't know he was the creep. He sure had her number, knew she'd never use it. Wish she would have invited him over and shot him, with this history folks would have believed her side. Wish someone else would have done it for her. This was a him or her situation. That's the problem though. This kind of guy doesn't go after the people who'd get tired of being afraid and go looking for him instead. They target the ones who would never get loose on them. Cant imagine what she went through and what her family goes through now.

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