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Unique program for families of murder victims, one woman who knows that pain now helps others

Posted at 6:45 PM, Oct 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-03 21:25:48-04

There are 16 detectives in the Cleveland Homicide Unit who work to try and solve murder cases. Among the detectives is Crisis Intervention Specialist, Grace Leon.

Leon works with the families of those who have been murdered.

"To make sure families aren't forgotten, that their loss is acknowledged," said Leon. 

Leon helped start a pilot program between the non-profit organization FrontLine Service and the Cleveland Police Department two years ago. She is a liaison between the detectives working to solve cases and the families dealing with tremendous grief. 

Leon knows all too well about that kind of pain. Seventeen years ago, she became a widow. Leon's husband, Cleveland Police Officer Wayne Leon, was killed in the line of duty, leaving her with three small children. 

"It was something 17 years ago that there really weren't a lot of resources for me and my children," explained Leon.

At that moment, she decided to change that for others. 

Juggling raising kids alone, she went back to school and became a social worker.

"Maybe it can provide hope for people, look what she went through and the path she took," said Leon.

The vastness of the program is unique, said Cleveland Police Sgt. Jennifer Ciaccia. Leon helped with a resource book that is given to families that goes far beyond grief counseling.

"How to close a bank account, sell a house, what to do with a pet," explained Ciaccia. "To take an experience like she had and turn it into something good isn't something that we're blind to and that is what makes her so great at what she does."