After raising five children, running a successful grocery business and mourning the loss of her husband, Willene Chong was finally enjoying her retirement. She lived with her son, Daniel, and his new wife, Nancy, in the home she had lived in for 36 years, a home full of many wonderful memories – the celebrations, the laughter and even the tears. Now a new generation of seven grandchildren came to visit.
That all changed on the morning of Friday, September 11, 2008.
Daniel awakened to fire racing through the house. Despite breaking a basement window and suffering a serious injury in his attempts to save her, Daniel was not able to reach his mother. Seventy-six year old Willene perished in the fire.
“My mother was a strong, loving, self-assured and loyal woman,” says Jerry Chong. “We were shaped by her will and determination to better ourselves.”
“The pain never leaves us and we are haunted by the nightmares of that day,” says Chong. “This is especially true for my youngest brother who was present. He not only suffered physical injuries, but memories he cannot erase.”
“Our family needs closure and for that to happen we need to bring her killer to justice.”
Her death was made even more senseless by the fact the home had been deliberately and randomly set on fire by a stranger, and appeared to be part of a series of arson fires that had been set in the area in the hours leading up to Willene’s death.
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