Slain mother and son honored
Friends of the James family urge others in need to get help
Dozens of friends of Grineline "Elaine" James took part in a silent march last night to remember the popular Farrington High School teacher and her 7-year-old son, Michael Anthony James Jr., whose bodies were discovered July 2 at their Mililani home.
"I cannot accept it," said a tearful Evengelyn Guittap, 50, a Farrington teacher who was a college classmate of Grineline James and ate lunch with her almost daily. "It's so hard to believe. I was with her so many times with her and her husband. They were so sweet."
Michael James Sr. strangled his wife and drowned his son, then hanged himself in their Mililani Mauka house last week, according to police and autopsies.
Friends were joined by Filipino community leaders and advocates for victims of domestic violence and other concerned citizens.
"It's gotten to the point where it's no longer domestic violence, it's domestic killing," said Belinda Aquino, professor and director for Philippine studies at the University of Hawaii. "We have to break that cycle of violence. It's deadly."
Guittap said that when she returned from a trip and learned the news of her close friend, she almost fainted. "Nobody can accept the fact that she died that way," she said.
James often spoke of her son, who was "a really good boy," very obedient and often on the computer, and sometimes she would pick him up from school and bring him to work, Guittap said.
Valasi Sepulona, a skills trainer working under James this summer, said: "She would always come in with a smile. She would never complain about home. She was always lively, always confident, no matter how hard the kids were to work with, she was determined to change the kids. It's just sad we lost a good teacher."
Filipino community leaders acknowledged that James was the third Oahu woman of Filipino ancestry killed by her husband in a murder-suicide in a little more than two months, and that culturally the women might feel they cannot speak to others about a family matter because it is private.
They and others urged women to seek help.
"There have to be better institutional ways to stop domestic violence," said Aquino.
"Enough is enough," said Raymond Llongson, professor of Philippine studies at Leeward Community College. "Let's put an end to it. Domestic violence is a crime. This struggle starts from the home."
A woman who works at the federal immigration office said many Filipino immigrant women fear being deported if they are victims of domestic violence, but said they would be helped to stay in America if they are victims.
A fund is being set up to raise money to help the family bring the bodies of James and her son back to the Philippines to be buried, which was her wish, said Rep. John Mizuno.