Karyn Grace takes Gunner & Ryker Bill to SC statehouse

By: Domonique Benn
By: Domonique Benn

Karyn Grace says January 8, 2006 was the day that changed her life forever.

It was the day her husband Terry Young killed their two children, 7-year-old Gunner and 4-year-old Ryker, before killing himself.

The children had been with their father for weekend visitation.

Officers learned more through a taped confession left behind by Terry Young.

Karyn Grace was in the middle of a divorce with her husband after years of mental abuse.

But because South Carolina's strict divorce laws don't recognize mental cruelty, she had no way out.

Only on 12, Karyn Grace takes her fight all the way to the South Carolina statehouse, to change the state's divorce laws.

Karyn Grace's family and friends listen as she talks about her two boys--Gunner, a sensitive 7 year old, and 4-year-old Ryker, who was full of life.

Their lives and futures ended when their father, Terry Young, killed them and then committed suicide.

But it was a year before that when Karyn pleaded with divorce court for help.

"I would wake up at night and he would be standing over me," Karyn says.

South Carolina does not recognize mental cruelty as grounds for divorce. Instead, a couple must be separated for one year.

Karyn says she felt trapped.

"We spent a year caged up in a home, scared to leave due to the threats and anger of what he might do. Please don't let this happen to another family," Karyn says.

Karyn Grace is bringing her fight all the way to the South Carolina statehouse. She says South Carolina's divorce laws do not allow for mental cruelty, something that would've allowed her to escape sooner and possibly prevent tragedy.

On Thursday, Karen spoke with the constitutional laws subcommittee. A group of state representatives listened as she talked about changing divorce laws to include mental cruelty.

Representative Don Smith of North Augusta (R-District 83) sponsored the bill.

"It is my contention that during that one year period of time that this father became more bitter," Smith says.

"I couldn't even file for divorce unless I took my children and moved out of the home. I think that is a huge deal," says Karyn.

But while Karyn feared for her life, she never imagined her children were in danger.

"I as a mother cannot imagine a human being taking the life of a child, their own child," she says.

And while the pain is still there for the loss of her children, Karyn Grace is a survivor and is making a difference out of tragedies.

"I always taught my children to do the right thing, help the other person," she says. "I feel they're with me here today urging me to do just that, so no one else will have to suffer through the type of tragedy our family's experienced."

Karyn says her children were sent by God for a reason...and though they were taken too soon, it won't be in vain.

Right now the Constitutional Laws Subcommittee has Karyn's proposal to change South Carolina divorce law.

They have to decide if it will move on to the judiciary committee before moving through the House and Senate.

Because the legislative session ends in June, the measure may have to be taken up again in January 2007, in the next session.

The murder suicide was a tragedy that united the North Augusta community.

In response, a candlelight vigil for the boys was held at North Augusta High School.

The following day, hundreds showed up to remember the two at their funeral.

Just a week later, a community healing service was held, marking several tragic events in North Augusta early this year.


Mailing Address: P.O. Box 1212 Augusta, GA 30903 Main Telephone: (803) 278-1212 Newsroom: (803) 278-3111 Fax: (803) 442-4561
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