This story was published in The Modesto Bee on May 31, 1996
Shortly after her daughter's murder, Jacque MacDonald scoured the answering machine tape searching for any trace of her daughter's voice.
Her labor of love took a week, rewinding and forwarding again and again. The fruit of her search is less than 10 seconds long. It's a familiar, jocular voice: "I knew I should have hung up. This is your daughter, Debi. I'll call you tonight, Mom. Love you."
That was eight years ago. Deborah "Debi" Mulvihill Whitlock was stabbed in her Modesto home with a knife from her own kitchen on March 25, 1988.
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The murder remains unsolved. And MacDonald, of Merced, instead of allowing her pain to get the best of her, has dedicated her life to fighting for victims and their families.
Sunday, her dream to create a television show for victims' families will come true. MacDonald and cable Assyriavision's John Kanno will co-host "The Victim's Voice." It debuts on KBSV (cable Channel 23 in Modesto) at 6:30 p.m., and will air every other weekend.
Kanno, host of Assyriavision's "Live and Personal," heard MacDonald's story through a mutual friend and wanted to help. Kanno also said that attending a Crime Victims Week gathering at the state Capitol last month affected him deeply.
"You always hear about homicides, but when you see 700 to 800 people in one place, it affects you a little differently," he said.
"Many times, you hear of what happened to the victim, but you never hear of what the mother, uncle, father or rest of the family is going through. This is a show for victims, about victims."
The first show will feature Dennis Cardoza, a Merced businessman and Democratic candidate for state Assembly. Also appearing will be Margaret Speed, administrative operations manager for the victim services division of the Stanislaus County district attorney's office.
A call-in segment will let people offer their views or ask questions.
MacDonald has appeared on national TV talk shows, and her daughter's killing has been the subject of pieces on "America's Most Wanted" and "Missing: Reward." It took her six years and hundreds of telephone calls before NBC Television's "Unsolved Mysteries" broadcast a story on her daughter's case.
She said she hopes no one will have to wait that long to be on "The Victim's Voice." "John and I are accessible," she said.
MacDonald said she wants the program's scope to extend far beyond victims' families. "Most people know someone who is a victim," she said.
"We all need to become involved with crime. As a single person, you can't do much. But collectively, we can do great things."
As busy as she is, MacDonald still takes time to remember Debi. When you call MacDonald's home, her answering machine, like most such devices, asks for a name and number.
Then, the sign-off says: "If you're my daughter, I love you."