Host speaks out on parents' deaths

October 23, 2009 8:40:13 PM PDT
Evidence found the home belonging to a Hammond couple found killed is helping investigators close in on possible suspects.Milton and Ruby McClendon were found shot to death Monday in a Calumet City forest preserve.

The Tribune reports that two men were recently seen trying to sell items taken from the McClendon home.

Wednesday morning, their Cadillac was found abandoned on the side of the Dan Ryan. A witness spotted two men leaving the car.

"Whatever happened, they were strong-armed, and the worst occurred," said Garrard McClendon.

Chicago cable television host Garrard McClendon remembers the parents he lost to a violent crime this week.

Ruby and Milton McClendon of Hammond were found murdered in a Cook County forest preserve Monday.

Garrard McClendon says forgiveness is the only way he and his family can move forward from this tragedy.

Ruby and Milton were heroes to the well-known talk show host and his two brothers and to a neighborhood where Milton was known by everyone as "Dad." And Garrard Mcclendon says like other recent high-profile murder cases in the African American community, his parents' deaths have to serve as a wake-up call to "stop the violence."

Family and friends gather at Garrard McClendon's home and pour over suitcases of snapshots of their lost loved ones. Ruby and Milton were married in 1955 and celebrated their 54th wedding anniversary a week ago Friday.

"You know, good people, upstanding people, vulnerable, loving," said Garrard McClendon.

McClendon says his wife called his producer in the CLTV newsroom with the shocking news of his parents' deaths. McClendon later identified their bodies.

"That's a terrible image that, before I go to bed, I see them. When I wake up, I see that image. But if I don't forgive and remain angry, that image will only cause me to do something terrible, detrimental or say something terrible or detrimental," Garrard McClendon said.

Forgiving the perpetrators is key to Garrard McClendon moving on with his life.

"These perpetrators need to be caught. They need to serve the time that they do for such a heinous crime. But they're already forgiven in my eyes because that's where I'm trying to take this thing," he said.

McClendon says his parents were too trusting. He said they had been followed before, and police suspect their age had made them targets of thieves. To stop such violence, McClendon is imploring the African American community to create new models of what makes the good life.

Milton McClendon was a 78-year-old Army veteran and retired postal worker. He had slowed down a bit after getting a pacemaker. Ruby McClendon was 76. She was a retired executive secretary.

The family of Ruby and Milton McClendon thumbed through snapshots of their lives, a look at how they lived before they were found dead Monday.

"People who helped everybody, went out of their way to coach people, love people and mentor people," said Garrard McClendon.

They leave behind three sons.

"I think that justice will prevail here real soon," Garrard McClendon said. "This is a crime against humanity. This could have happened to anyone, but we got Derrion Alberts, Natasha Howliets, Blair Holts all around Chicagoland, innocent people being murdered."

Now, Garrard McClendon and other relatives just hope the killers' families have courage to speak up.

These people who know - these family members, friends and acquaintances - they need to have their heart pricked and talk, 'I know who it was. It was this person, it was that person,'" Garrard McClendon said.


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