LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - This week marks 20 years since a shocking crime rocked this community. It's a murder that forever changed the way crime victims are notified when an offender is released from jail.
December 6, 1993 was Mary Byron's 21st birthday. She was leaving her job at the JC Penney hair salon at Mall St. Matthews. It was after dark and she did not know her former boyfriend had been released from jail earlier that day. He was facing trial on charges of kidnapping and raping Byron. He waited in the mall parking lot and as she got in her car, then he shot her six times at point blank range. Byron had no way of knowing she was ever in danger.
Because of the efforts of Mary Byron's family and then Jefferson County Judge Executive Dave Armstrong, the first-ever automated system to notify victims of a criminal's status - now known as VINE - was created. Since then, 47 states have created a victim notification system.
This week's anniversary calls on victims everywhere to protect themselves by registering anonymously with VINE. Byron's parents said focusing on VINE the last 20 years has helped ease some of their pain.
"At least we can feel that some good has come out of it," her father John Byron said. "The fact that we hear all the time from people about how VINE has helped them."
John Bryon's wife, Pat Byron, agreed, "I had a woman come to me in a store last week and she thanked me for the VINE program and yes, she does use it."
The Mary Byron Project was also created out of the tragedy. Its mission is all about fostering new innovations that are working across the country to help to end domestic violence.
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