Mothers unite to bring about change in Savannah - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Mothers unite to bring about change in Savannah


At this moment, the Savannah-Chatham Metro Police Department is investigating 15 cold case murders from the past year up until now. The victims of those murders left behind mothers and families still unable to cope with their loss, and the fact that killers still remain on the loose.

The Mother of Murdered Sons in Savannah, a group founded by Barbara O'Neal, is an organization with hundreds of members all bearing the same heartache.

Linda Wilder-Bryan lost her son this summer.

"On August 7, I found out my son was shot. I became a member of this club,” said Wilder-Bryan.

She said she joined the group for one main reason.

"I wanted to do something impactful because I didn't want my son’s life in vain,” 

The impact this group has can be seen in the sisterhood among its members.

"It’s very helpful. It’s a shoulder to cry on, they are there,” said Michelle Pastures, also a mother.

"We need each other. We have common pain. No one understands unless you are a mother that walks in our heels,” said Bernetta Lanier.

Pastures’ son, James Pastures, was murdered in front of his apartment on E. 51st Street in Savannah in January of this year. Bernetta Lanier's son, William Anderson II, was murdered almost three years ago in their neighborhood park in Hudson Hill. Wilder-Bryan's son, Lawrence Bryan IV, was shot and killed on E. 52nd Street.

Two of these mothers, Linda Wilder-Bryan and Bernetta Lanier, have decided to take action as a result of their sons murders and are running for elected office.

All three of these cases are cold, and police said anti-snitch culture is a huge contributing factor to these cold cases.

"Surprisingly it hurts more than people realize. There was a movement of not being involved, because afraid of retaliation or being identified. People started to withdraw,” said Cpl. John Simmons, Savannah-Chatham Metro Police Department.

All three mothers said something has got to give, and people need to start talking.

"So much blood spilt in this town. Savannah can never be fully safe, move forward, until we deal with the issues of all the murders in this town,” said Lanier.

Pastures did admit her son was in a gang, and that contributed to his death. 

"My son was a victim of gang violence.  It affects everyone. Not only the person murdered, the friends, families, and other family as well,” said Michelle Pastures.

And her daughter-in-law is one of those affected the most.

"I cry every time because it's real hard. I lost more than a husband, I lost my kids father,” said Ashley Pastures, widow. "At home he was my husband. He wasn't who he was out in the streets. He kept my family away from that type of life.”

The bottom line, according to these mothers, is no matter what color you are, this is everyone's city.

"All lives matter. We need to come together as a community to help stop these violent acts,” said Michelle Pastures.

"Savannahians need to come to the table and listen to each other,” said Bryan. "It's not about black lives. It’s about all lives in this community."

WTOC asked police if there are any leads in these cases, and they said they cannot comment on any open investigations.

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