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Mother Of Murdered NJ Teen Trying To Help Herself, Others Heal Emotionally

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Laurie Parks (credit: CBS 2)

Laurie Parks (credit: CBS 2)

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RANDOLPH, N.J. (CBS 2) — A New Jersey mother is turning her grief into a call for action to help others dealing with devastating loss.

Laurie Parks’ 16-year-old daughter, Jennifer, was murdered by two brothers who lived next door in Randolph. She was beaten, stabbed, dismembered and then stuffed in a trunk.

“She was my only child — her and I were very close. Her and her father were very close,” Parks told CBS 2′s Christine Sloan.

The crime was so gruesome that the two brothers, James and Jonathan Zarate — who were 14 and 18 at the time — are now serving life sentences.

Jonathan Zarate had invited Jennifer Parks to watch TV in his basement back in 2005, where the murder occurred.

“At least you are alive, your parents can come see you through a piece of glass in a prison one day a week, two days a week. I have to go to the cemetery and talk to my daughter,” Laurie Parks said.

Six years have gone by since that horrific day. Now, Parks is trying to heal emotionally. She is starting a chapter of a non-profit organization, called “Parents of Murdered Children,” in her area that will meet in a local church.

“Now I know that I can help other people going through what I went through,” Parks said.

The fact that Laurie Parks is able to move forward is a miracle. After her daughter was murdered, she and her husband divorced but stayed close, but in May he died.

The 50-year-old Parks has gone back to school and is getting her life together.

“Now that he’s gone, I’m doing it for both of them. He’s with his daughter now and with his grandparents so he’s in a much better place,” Parks said.

Parks said the younger brother had been bullying her daughter. Jennifer Parks would have been 22 and her mom says she would have probably been pursuing her dream to be a writer and journalist.

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