Jana Wilfong is a protection order specialist in the Delaware County Prosecutor's Office Victim Services Unit.

Jana Wilfong is a protection order specialist in the Delaware County Prosecutor's Office Victim Services Unit.

She's also the victim of a horrible crime.

"I come here today not just as a victims advocate but as a victim of crime myself," she told Delaware County commissioners during their meeting Monday, April 23.

Wilfong was emotional throughout her testimony to the commissioners marking National Crime Victims' Rights Week, recounting the brutal murder of her sister, Pam, at the hands of an ex-boyfriend.

Pam was bludgeoned with a lead pipe June 1, 2002.

"She was upstairs in the bathroom covered in blood," Wilfong said of the day her brother-in-law found her sister's body.

Pam's murderer was quickly apprehended and currently sits on death row awaiting execution. But the lives of family members had been irrevocably changed.

"I have no words to describe the effects this crime has had on my family," she said.

Pam was murdered on the day her only son, Eric, was to be married.

"My nephew was 23 on what should have been the happiest day of his life. It turned out to be the worst day of his life," Wilfong said.

"It was the hardest thing that my two sisters and I ever had to do when we told our mother that Pam had been found dead," she said.

"I have watched for the past 10 years my mother as she's tried to cope with the loss of a child at the hands of another human being."

Wilfong said she was moved by her experiences with "a great victims advocate, who stood by us from beginning to end of the process," to work herself as a victims advocate.

She joined the victim services unit in October and has assisted more than 60 victims of crime since then.

"I work with Delaware County victims of crime at what is one of the worst times of their lives," Wilfong said.

"I stay in touch with many of them long after the court process is over," she said.

"Some just need someone to listen. Others want to tell me how they're doing. Still others need additional resources to help them."

Wilfong said simply being there for victims is the most important part of her job.

"When the victims I advocate for at the end of the process turn to me and say, 'Thank you so much. I don't know what I would have done without your help,' that's when I know some sort of good has come from sister's death," Wilfong said, her voice breaking.

The commissioners recognized Crime Victims' Rights Week by placing blue ribbons on the lawn outside their building, and with their resolution urging county residents to "... reaffirm their commitment to victims of crime by extending them respect, understanding and compassion."
Commissioner Ken O'Brien praised Wilfong and the victims services unit for helping "victims to survive and to move on, to make sure they don't continually feel they are a victim of crime."

"Experience has taught me that victims of crime suffer consequences that can be perpetual and wide-ranging," O'Brien said.

The Delaware County Prosecutor's Office assisted more than 650 victims of crime in 2012.

"It's important we bring to the forefront the need to support these folks," Commissioner Tommy Thompson said.

Everyone is at risk, Wilfong said.

"I am here to tell you today that no one is immune to being a crime victim – not even my sister, Pam, who was a deputy sheriff at the time," she said.

"It can happen to anyone."

For more information, call the Victim Services Unit at 740-833-2710.