It certainly wasn’t easy for Michelle Metje and her family to cope with the maelstrom of sudden circumstances after her son Corey Laykovich was killed last summer.
But given her 26 years in social work and her father’s career as a police officer, Metje says she had some mental capability of handling media opportunities and communications with the police – at least, more than a lot of murder victims’ family members.
Laykovich, 22, was the victim of the overnight stabbing July 27, 2013, near his home at the 4000 block of Crackerneck Road in Independence. He returned home about 2 a.m. after the attack, too much blood lost to explain what all had happened, and died the next day at a local hospital. The homicide remains unsolved.
“I’ve been in front of a few cameras,” Metje said. “A person without my background wouldn’t have managed as well.”
Now she aims to help others in her position.
Metje and Bob Norris, Laykovich’s stepfather, are starting “Corey’s Network: A foundation for hope,” with a vision of creating a network to help families of homicide victims around the metro region with immediate needs.
“What we found out through the whole process is, outside of Kansas City, there’s no city-level victim’s advocate, to explain what the process is with police, media, counseling, help for funds,” Metje said. “We had to stumble on it.”
A meeting for prospective board members, partners and those interested in supporting the foundation is 1-3 p.m. Sunday at DiCarlo’s Mustard Seed, 15015 E. 40 in Kansas City. Metje said personnel from the Independence and Kansas City police departments are among the 20 people scheduled so far to view her presentation at DiCarlo’s.
“We don’t care too much for people having to flounder and deal with it on their own,” she said.
In addition to being comfortable talking with media, and knowing when not to talk – Metje said she refused an offer from the Maury Povich Show to try discovering her son’s killer by via psychic – the foundation aims to help families understand how police work such cases.
“Because of the way police have to handle the case, families have to understand that some of the processes may be offensive,” she said, “and they can’t take it personally.”
Metje, who has a master’s degree in organizational development and is working on another master’s in fundraising, also wants to connect families with counseling or therapy services. Lastly – and most important, she said – people often need help accessing funds to pay for the sudden funeral costs, whether it be through victim’s compensation (Missouri has the crime victims compensation fund), writing grants or soliciting donations.
Metje said her family was fortunate to receive private financial help in covering Corey’s funeral costs, and Corey’s brother Justin Laykovich added that “A lot of people have had our back.” But for those who can’t afford to pay a funeral home, the county then cremates the body and family receives a box of ashes. That becomes problematic, she said, depending on certain religious preferences or if an investigation could have been aided by exhuming the body.
In five years, Metje hopes Corey’s Network can be headquartered in a free-standing office, perhaps a house, to provide victims’ families with a comfortable, calm environment.
“We may not be able to save lives, but maybe we can change them and help people,” she said. “There are people that have gone through what I’ve gone through. I think God has put me in a position where I’m able to help.
“He leads you down certain paths.”