Mother of teen killed in 2006 helping others struggling with grief

Published: Aug. 30, 2023 at 7:29 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - After losing her son to gun violence in Cincinnati, a Texas mother is now devoted to helping others, even across state lines.

Bernadine Krehye-Holland lost her son Joseph Krehye on Sept. 13, 2006, a day that will forever be the darkest one of her life.

“It hits you that I’m not gonna see this person again,” she said. “I’m not gonna talk with this person again. I’m not gonna be able to dream with this person again.”

Witnesses told Cincinnati police at the time in 2006 that someone in a white van had started firing shots along Robertson Avenue in Oakley.

Two teens, including Joseph, were hit by gunfire, per police.

“He was on his way to a friend’s house, and my understanding is, a van came around and opened the door and shot him while he was speaking with someone,” Bernadine said.

The 18-year-old made it down the road, to his house on Appleton Street, where he took his last breath.

“We were fortunate in that when it happened, he was able to get home, so he actually passed with his dad holding him,” Bernadine said.

Police followed the van to a nearby gas station in Evanston and found that a 15-year-old had also been shot.

Detectives questioned three people who had been inside the van. Ultimately, records show they focused in on a juvenile as the main suspect.

[RELATED: One Dead, One Hurt In Oakley Shooting]

CPD records show the case is considered “cleared” as of 2009, although those same documents show the teen suspect was never prosecuted.

It is not clear why, as Bernadine says she did face the suspect in a courtroom.

“When I saw the young man, when I first saw him, I thought wow, you know, here’s a young man who’s getting ready to be taken off the street, and his family, they were devastated,” she said.

A fact that only deepened Bernadine’s devastation is that Joseph was only one day away from starting college on a full scholarship. After going to Withrow High School, he had dreams of being an entrepreneur.

“I was going to Thomas Moore, and math had never been a strong point of mine, but he would help me with my math, and he was in high school, and I was in college,” Bernadine said. “He was well-liked. He was very mannerable. He was a typical teenager, no worse or no better.”

While trying to cope with the tragedy, Bernadine turned to local groups for support. It inspired her to do more and start her own program focused specifically on grief.

In 2011, her group “Forgive and Release” was born. She started it in Cincinnati and ended up taking parts of it to Texas, where she lives now.

They come together to celebrate holidays and create new memories, all while honoring their late loved ones.

“We made little plates, and the plates had little things that they wanted to say to their loved one with their picture on it,” she said. “You know we did little crafts and things.”

Bernadine’s mission is to honor her son’s memory by forgiving his killer, forgiving herself and helping others find forgiveness. It is something she never expected to do, but she says Joseph, if he were still here, would be right by her side.

“I don’t think this would surprise him any at all,” she said. “There’s nothing physically that my son can do. Anything that happens now has to happen through me.”

Bernadine has also written two books including “The Battle From Misery To Ministry,” which is a fictional book that helped her deal with her grief.

She also penned “Living My Blessed Life,” which allowed her to open up about her son’s murder.

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