Metro woman relates to Tinker tragedy

Wednesday, February 27th 2008, 6:28 pm
By: News 9

By Amy Lester, NEWS 9

Cheli Porter's ex-husband shot and killed their three young sons and then turned the gun on himself 11 years ago.

"The pain is immense, and it never goes away, the hole that's in your heart will always be there," Porter said. "He had called me early in the morning and had actually had a conversation with me, then shot himself while he was on the phone with me."

Eleven-year-old Cody Fox, Cory Fox, 10, and Caleb Fox, 8, were all shot to death by their father, Kevin Dale Fox. Porter remembers the whirlwind of emotions, the struggle, the shock, and the anguish right after her sons were killed.

"The next worse moment other than learning what had happened to my children was the day after it happened when I woke up and realized that it wasn't just a dream," Porter said.

Kevin Fox decided to kill the children about three weeks after the couple's divorce became final, Porter said.  The kids were visiting their father at the time.

"I still remember thinking I should have been there, I should have been there to protect them but there's never anything you can do and you can't look back on the what if, you've got to move forward," Porter said.

Domestic violence advocates say a lot of women feel guilt in situations like these.       

Janet Peery of YWCA said abusers try to control the women from the grave inflicting the worst aching loss possible.

"The fact that the children are probably the ultimate treasure to these victims makes them also, can be an ultimate target," Peery said. "It's the ultimate that they can do to be evil, be mean and try to control that victim."

Porter's sons memories live on in her quilt patched together with their belongings.  She'll never forget them.

"I would do anything to have my children back but obviously god left me here for a reason and I've moved forward and I may never know exactly why he did what he did and I'm going to have to be okay with that," Peery said.

Porter is proof that there's a way to survive, even after such unbelievable loss. She's married with two kids and speaks out to women's groups, to motivate and help others.

Porter would also like to talk to the mother affected by the Tinker tragedy, to try and help her make it through this tough time.