KANSAS CITY, Mo. – She’s become a symbol of strength, and she’s as much a part of most crime scenes as the tape that blocks them off.
Rosilyn Temple helps families who have lost loved ones to violence because she knows firsthand what it’s like. She does it, though, while still carrying her own unanswered questions.
“When he was born, about like one years old, he was walking, like just a little tiny thing," Temple said. "So I just looked at him one day and said that’s Pee Wee.”
Antonio Thompson was 25, but to her, he was still her child.
“I remember he had me get him greens and sweet potatoes," she said of the day before Thanksgiving seven years ago. "I remember taking his food to his apartment and telling him I’d see him tomorrow morning.”
She woke up and went to work, but couldn’t reach her son all day.
“I just couldn’t think straight. I just felt something was wrong,” Temple said.
Antonio’s last Facebook post was from 10:30 the night before.
“Then it’s like mama antennas go up. I was getting kind of like a panic attack. I went to my son’s apartment 202. I remember kind of knocking on the door and shaking the door handle," she said.
The worried mother called police, who agreed to get into the apartment to check on him. They had her wait outside.
“It was cold," she said, describing that moment as she waited. "I remember standing there just like time had stopped. It was like it took them so long, but I remember when the sergeant came out that door, the way he looked at me. He gave me a look."
Her son Antonio was there inside. He was dead.
Seven years later, there have still been no arrests.
But what happened that night put into motion something Temple said now defines her life purpose. She started the organization Mothers in Charge here in Kansas City.
“It started that night," she said. "I knew I had to do something in my community.”
Temple reached out to police. She started going to every homicide scene, right along with them.
“For 2 and a half years, I didn’t get a quarter. I didn’t get even gas money. I remember I had a ‘96 Honda Accord, and I remember after the years, the muffler got so loud. The detectives were like, ‘We heard you coming!’ It was loud. I’d be rolling on two wheels. I felt like a police officer, but I wasn’t. I was coming to help a family, help a mama,” Temple said.
She helps by just being there, which is role she said can only be filled by walking in those very same shoes of grief.
While she will continue to help hurting families, she is still waiting on answers about her own.
Her plea: “Please help me be able to say, ‘OK,’ to talk to the person or people who did this and let them know, ‘I forgave you a long time ago.’ If I didn’t forgive, I wouldn’t be able to do what I’m doing to live. I can at least look them in the eye and say, ‘That was my child. You didn’t have the right to take his life. I wouldn’t want the same thing for your mother.’ Please give me some kind of closure.”