One Valley Tragedy Now Helping Another Family Find Justice

By: Pete Delea, Nicole DiAntonio Email
By: Pete Delea, Nicole DiAntonio Email

HARRISONBURG, Va. One Valley tragedy now helping another family find justice.

Nearly two years after the passing of Ben Graessle, a family still mourns.

Ben's life was stolen with a bullet back in December 2012 when he was murdered at a party outside his own Harrisonburg home.

Cole Trower viewed Graessle as one of his best friends.

"That is all he did was help other people. He was the most unselfish person I have ever met in my life," said Trower.

Trower was one of thousands of people outraged when they realized the accomplice who drove the murderer away and hid the gun could only be charged with misdemeanors.

Now, his family and friends are using this tragedy to find justice for other victims.

Ben's mother, Debbie Songer said, "This is a terrible law which did not fit the crime in any way."

With local delegates and a community of signatures backing them, they spoke to the General Assembly about Ben's Law, trying to make it a felony to help a murderer after a crime.

It was successful and since going into effect in July, we are now seeing an impact here in the Valley.

Mark Neeley lost his son nearly two weeks ago in Fort Defiance. Now, Ben's Law is being put into action for the first time, charging two people with felonies for helping the accused murderer get after after the crime.

"Another senseless murder of a man with a bright future," said Songer.

Now, as Ben's family and friends place flowers at his memorial, they said seeing the law in action helps keep his memory alive.


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