One Son’s Murder: California Native Impacts Florida Laws by Turning Pain into Passion

Shown on the front row lighting candles for victims is June Kemp, Glorious Johnson, Deacon Dianne Larson and Jean Francis.

Nonprofit Curtis and Company For Children Gone Too Soon Inc. was on the frontline for justice commemorating National Crime Victims Rights Week 2024, at the Calloway Cove Apartments located in the Moncrief Road North corridor.  The organization was named after Curtis Leon Williamson, a homicide cold case victim. Their goal – bring awareness and ask tough questions to compel local agencies to be trauma-informed and trained to assess supportive treatment for those impacted by crime.

“Let’s continue to prioritize the needs of our communities and work towards a brighter future,” said founder Patricia Ward. Wards justice journey began March 26, 1997 when a police officer came to her door and explained to her that her son was missing and had been chased into the water by a group of people after a fight broke out at San Diego, California. Ward was eventually informed that her son accidentally drowned.

“I pleaded with my family and the police that this could not be true as my son taught my daughters how to swim,” said Ward. With a police report in hand, and more than twenty witnesses there was still confusion on the demise of Curtis mysterious death. In her sons memory, Ward wrote the Child Closure Law (changed to SB1268 Curtis Law in 2017) and was signed into law by California Governor Gavin Newsom in 2022. The law ensures that the immediate family of a deceased minor whose death is investigated by a law enforcement agency receives information about the investigation, including contact information of the investigators, the case number, and information about any property of the victim that is being held.

Contemplating a fresh start and a move from California, Wards Navy relatives and daughters resided in Duval. In 2016 she made her move to the First Coast. With the continued struggle and battle of memories of her son, Ward dashed into action advocating for Curtis Law to be on the books in the state of Florida.  In May  2023, she witnessed Governor Ron Desantis sign Curtis Law (House bill 233) law into action.  Ward continues to network throughout Northeast Florida with families, groups and other survivors and crime victims. The organization recently held their inaugural community candlelight vigil. They also provide free counseling, assistance with headstones, Thanksgiving distribution program and monthly meetings on the 4th Monday.

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