The possibility of volunteers watching the house of a bereaved family could be just as effective as the actual fact, an organizer of the group Looking Out For Each Other believes.
During a meeting Tuesday, July 31, Clydean Cooper suggested a networking system she said could potentially blanket all of Grayson County with awareness of the group and its goals. She asked members to each tell three people of LOFEO’s mission and to ask that they each tell three people, and so on. Within a week, she said, they could reach every “man, woman and child” in the county.
Cooper formed LOFEO in the wake of the June burglary of the Clarkson home of Dennis and Cindy Higdon during their murdered son’s funeral.
Three men — Michael Acord and James Parrett of Magnolia, and Timothy Terry of Vine Grove — have been charged in connection with that break-in and one at a Cecilia woman’s home during her husband’s funeral.
The goal of LOFEO is to stop such future break-ins by having background-checked volunteers housesit the homes of families attending funerals.
Cooper said Tuesday that she wants LOFEO to remain focused on housesitting for funerals and not to branch into such work during visitations. Visitations can last several hours, she said, which could cause logistical problems for the volunteers. And with their extended times, there are more chances for relatives and friends to leave visitations to stay at the house, she pointed out.
The group will work with churches, ministers and funeral homes to also spread the word about its services.
County Attorney Clay Ratley said concerns about liability issues from being on strangers’ property could be addressed by having bereaved families sign a simple consent form.
“We’re not creating a security company here,” he said. “We’re not there to play cop — we’re there as a visual deterrent.”
Ratley said the volunteers wouldn’t necessarily need to enter the house. “We just need the expectation that two volunteers will go to the property at some point during the funeral,” he said, adding they could simply sit in the driveway for a while, or leave and come back.
“If you mix it up, that’s what keeps these kind of people on their toes,” Ratley said.
Cooper said a core group of housesitting volunteers will be formed, but that options for other volunteers to help will exist. LOFEO is not planning any more general meetings, but anyone interested in volunteering can contact Cooper at 242-2065.