Story By Lisa
In 2015 my life changed forever my son had been brutally murdered by five people, including his partner. My life became a blur as I tried to battle with emotions that had no rhyme or reason. I would hear guttural crying and then realise it was me screaming from the inside out. It happened on Friday 3rd April 2015 my son’s daughter Ruby’s 1st birthday. The major crime squad came and talked to us and the message was simple, we have found a body in the boot of your son’s car, the car is burnt out, we are continuing our investigations we will return when we have more answers for you. We decided to tell no one except our other three children and our parents. The compounding grief of not knowing grew. In our minds, we thought once we know if it’s Trav or not we will be ok. We were never ok again!
On Easter Sunday the press ran a story dubbed “the body in the boot” they named our son Travis Bennjamin Mills as the possible body. This started a chain of events that meant we had to notify our friends and our employers of the awful possibility that the body could be Travis’s. Travis was burnt beyond recognition and dental records were required to make a positive I.D. At the time I begged the major crime squad to let me identify my son. My brain couldn’t understand that would be impossible due to the fire.
During this time as a family, we wrapped our support and love around his partner and their daughter as we struggled to make sense of what had happened to our son. On Tuesday 7th April 2105 major crime visited and told us they had made a formal identification of Travis. Life as we knew it would never be the same ever again. The news continued to broadcast him as “the body in the boot”
The major crime squad didn’t give us any information about their investigation, I recall at one stage asking them if Trav’s partner was involved due to the insistence of my children that she was somehow involved. Their resounding answer was always no. We started to make plans for Trav’s partner and their baby and offered a room at our house, with talk of building a granny flat so we could support her in her new life as a single mum.
On May 13th 2015 my son’s partner was arrested and charged with being an accessory in my son’s murder. We reeled in disbelief, I was hysterical and bereft, how could someone that loved my son be involved? How could someone that had planned his funeral and had his baby, and grieved with us possibly be involved? We felt more betrayed in that instant than ever before. Major crime told me I needed to focus on our granddaughter as effectively she had lost both her parents. At 10.30pm two people from major crime I will admire forever, bought Ruby to us and we suddenly became the parents and guardians of a one year old. Life again changed forever as broken sleep, nappies and bottles became the new us. On May 14th 2015 my son’s partners charges were upgraded to murder. We also entered the nightmare that is called family court to ensure no one could take Ruby from us. The cost of this financially and emotionally on us is insurmountable.
We sat through an eight week trial and heard things about our son’s murder that will forever be etched in my mind and can’t be unheard, amongst this was forensic evidence such as blood splatter patterns, a burning skull alight in the boot of the car, something I still awake from nightmares about. We heard about other peoples P.T.S.D from opening the boot and seeing the grizzly discovery of our sons burnt and battered body. I don’t think I will ever understand how five people including my son’s partner could plan and execute his murder. Due to the amazing diligent work of the DPP and major crime, we got five guilty verdicts and five life sentences which we thought would bring us some peace. It didn’t.
We then spent six months in limbo while they appealed their sentences and convictions. This came at a huge monetary cost to taxpayers and a huge emotional cost to us. These were recently dismissed. Do we feel better? No!
Imagine any social setting where people innocently ask how many children do you have? My stomach knots as I answer them I have four children however one is in heaven. I have lots of variations about the story and more often than not people get the smallest version I can manage as it opens wounds that never heal. I wear a mask to function and only occasionally will the grief overwhelm me and make me feel paralysed. We have snippets of happiness and our grandchildren including Ruby are a joy to us. Our lives have been changed forever and we are still adjusting to a life as parents of a murdered child.
A belief people have is that if you can forgive you will heal. I will never forgive the five people that so senselessly took my son’s life and changed our family and his daughter’s life forever. People also say the first Christmas and the first birthday is the worst! This is a lie, every anniversary, every family get together is never the same, just bubbling under the surface is the grief and pain of the missing person in this case my son. Each year on Ruby’s birthday, which is also the anniversary of Trav’s death we pretend that life is ok and celebrate her birth as best we can. Yet never far from the surface are the tears that threaten to fall and never stop.
Recently there have been changes made to the parole laws which could keep serial killers and some of the worst murderers inside jail for the rest of their lives.
I applaud this decision, however, I am confused as to why this law doesn’t apply to all people that commit murders. I had lots of phone calls and messages from friends thinking that our son’s killers would now stay in jail for their natural lives. Their questions were the same as mine. How do you make a distinction between murders? Aren’t all murders a heinous crime? My son’s murder was planned for six months, six months that anyone of those five killers could have stopped the crime from occurring. All people that lose a loved one to murder, share the same agonising situation of trying to make sense of something that will never make sense.
My families grief is no less than someone whose child was murdered by a serial killer. Come and walk a day in my shoes, and then tell me where there is a difference.
How can someone who has committed murder ever be rehabilitated? They took an innocent life and they should have their life taken away and spend the rest of their lives in jail. The families like mine that lose a child to murder never recover, we just survive. We also have been given a life sentence.
When a family member is murdered the effect that has on us the innocent victims is enormous. We are secondary victims of murder, we are still alive but at times barely functioning. Coping with grief and being overwhelmed becomes a new way of life. Our lives will never be the same. My granddaughter will never know the amazing man that was her father, how will she understand and come to terms with the fact her mother murdered her father?
I want a clear message sent to people that commit murder, It is not ok, it is not acceptable and you will spend the rest of your life in prison to pay for your crime.
What can I do to convince you and others that all murderers should stay in jail for the rest of their natural lives?
Travis Bennjamin Mills