MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - Four families who lost their loved ones have joined together to form the first support group of its kind in our area.
Although the man who murdered Mary Allyson Baker and two other people is behind bars, Baker's parents still have to live with the reality their daughter is never coming home.
Now, she would be 23 years old but her life was taken at the age of 18.
Her parents have found strength in others and hope their story can help those who are going through it now.
For Paul and Janet Baker their beautiful baby girl was a blessing.
"I had her when I was 30 years old, when I was told I couldn't have any more children. She was just special a gift from the first day," said Janet Baker.
"Daddy's little girl," said Paul Baker.
Baker graduated from Cottage Hill Christian Academy and took her big smile and bubbly personality to the University of South Alabama where she was a Kappa Delta.
"When I think of Allison, I just see her being silly and cutting up and that big old smile that I loved," said Janet Baker.
She had a bright future that was taken from her.
"Just in the blink of an eye, (she was) gone. Never did come back," said Paul Baker.
Allyson, her boyfriend Matthew Willis, 17, and his brother Brandon, 11, were killed in a crash on Highway 45 in Citronelle.
Andrew Loper chased them and rammed Allison's SUV three times, forcing her off the road.
"Threw Matt through the sunroof that was closed and about 30 yards into a field. Broke little Brandon's neck. He never got out of the truck. When the tree hit the truck, it threw Allyson back toward the road," said Paul Baker.
The driver came back after the crash but never stopped.
"Allyson was probably 20 yards, maybe 10 yards, off the road fighting for her life. And he just drove off and left her. Went home went to sleep, and that was it," said Paul Baker.
At the hospital, the Baker family's nightmare began especially for her 8-year-old little brother who worshiped his big sister
"I told Paul Thomas, our son, that everything was going to be ok. But it wasn't. It just wasn't," said Paul Baker.
Loper was charged with murder, and Allyson's parents had to come face to face with the man who took her life.
"It was the closest I have ever come to evil, passing him in that court room," said Janet Baker.
A year later, Loper was convicted and sentenced to 99 years for each life he took.
"He will one day get out; but Allyson, Matt and Brandon are not coming home," said Paul Baker.
Allyson, Matt and Brandon's death has left its mark on many and the Bakers know their daughter was not the first to be murdered, and won't be the last.
"We see it every day. We see it every day in the news now. There is someone whose life has been taken from them, and there are families that are hurting like we are," said Janet Baker.
The Bakers want to help others brace for the challenges that unfold following a murder. They are part of a support group that helps families cope with loss.
"To go down there and go in a room and identify your daughter as your daughter, and as a daddy you wonder why I wasn't there; but I wasn't. And with the support group, there are a lot of things that go on that you have to be ready for and it's tough. And maybe with this group, we can help some people through it," said Paul Baker.
Signs of Allyson are all around. When you pass Cottage Hill Christian Academy, you will see a single tree with a plaque overlooking the football field.
It's a reminder that Allyson is gone, but never forgotten.
One of the hopes with this support group is that if any of the convicted go up for parole the whole group will be there to protest their release.
The support group and Disaster and Victim Services is sponsoring a "National Day of Remembrance." It's Tuesday at Cathedral Square in Mobile. It starts at 7 p.m.
If you have lost a loved one, they ask you bring a picture to honor them.
Everyone is invited to join.
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