Woman who founded support group following her son’s murder has died, family says | Metro

“We come every year to pray to stop the violence,” said Steven Thompson (center) who kneels on the floor next to his mother Shirley Douglas at Families’ 23rd annual New Year’s Eve candlelight service Advocating Safe Streets commemorating those who lost their lives to violence in 2014 Wednesday, December 31, 2014, at Williams Temple COGIC brother Thomson was killed in August 2009. Photo by Laurie Skrivan, [email protected]

Laurie Skrivan

ST. LOUIS — The founder and president of a longtime St. Louis nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting the families of homicide victims has died, according to a family member.

Jeanette Culpepper, 73, died on Sunday, according to her granddaughter, Asia Johnson, who also worked with the organization founded by her grandmother, Families Advocating Safe Streets.

Culpepper started annual New Year’s Eves after having one for his own son, Curtis Johnson Jr., who was Asia Johnson’s father. He was killed aged 22 in 1991. At the time, Culpepper said she wanted more attention about her son’s murder and was disappointed in the lack of media attention.

The events brought together families, members of the public and elected leaders. On New Year’s Eve 2020, then-Mayor Lyda Krewson participated, noting the high number of officials present. That year, the city’s homicide rate was the highest in 50 years.

In preparation for the vigils, Culpepper would send letters to hundreds of families of homicide victims in St. Louis and St. Louis County for the annual candlelight event held at the Williams Temple Church of God on Union Boulevard.

“It was his passion. He was a very honorable and respectable person,” Johnson said. “Some people die at the beginning of the year and at the end of the year, they are no longer remembered. It’s like it’s temporary, but my grandma let those families know that someone cared.

Virginia S. Braud