Dru's mother continues to turn her tragedy into hopeWahpeton, ND (WDAY TV) - A mother we have grown to know for more than six years continues to turn her tragedy into hope. Linda Walker's 22-year old daughter, Dru Sjodin, became a household name for the wrong reasons, but Dru's killing is leading Walker to act.
By: Travis Skonseng, WDAY
Linda Walker is using her horrific experience to change lives and hopefully outcomes of similar situations. Tonight, she and 500 others in Wahpeton wore these ribbons to say enough is enough.
“I'm just a mom on a mission.”
Holding back tears, Linda Walker remembers the life taken too soon at the hands of a convicted sex offender.
“For the one evil person that changed my life so dramatically.”
This November marks the 7th anniversary of her daughter, Dru Sjodin's, brutal rape, kidnapping, and murder.
“We found her 5 months later in a ravine where she had been discarded.”
Since that fateful day, Walker has remained vigilant, speaking out against violence, to Congress, communities, and colleges.
“I have no illusions that I can change the world myself. I just want to do whatever I can to change one really bad part of it.”
Walker's support for stronger laws helped get Dru's Law passed. It better tracks sex offenders.
“I wonder how many have yet to be identified and are stalking their next victim.”
Students here are moved.
“Just her story talking about her daughter and everything was touching.”
“Just doesn't need to happen, something that can be prevented.”
And that's why Walker is carrying on the voice of Dru since she no longer has her own.
“I knew I could either let grief and despair define me or I could do something to try to make communities safer for all of our children.”
Walker's fight isn't over. She plans to lobby for a stricter criminal justice system with other parents from a group she helped create called Surviving Parents Coalition. NDSCS is one of 10 campuses in the country taking part in the Ten Points initiative, a month long violence awareness effort.
Three weeks before Dru died, she spent hours volunteering to help victims and survivors of domestic violence. Tonight, there was a similar effort in Wahpeton. The Clothesline Project helps victims of sexual assault and domestic violence heal. Each color represents a different abuse.
The statewide effort involves people, some children, writing or drawing about their experiences on a T-shirt. About 50 of the 663 shirts are hanging in the NDSCS Cultural Center.
“The goal is to get the word out, which this has happened in ND. There is domestic violence, there is sexual assault and there is child sexual abuse.”
About 200-advocates took part in a 40 minute take back the night walk around campus tonight. 49 people in North Dakota and Minnesota died last year at the hands of an abuser.