They say that the greatest pain a person could ever feel is when a parent loses a child and I believe it.

Add to that the pain and agony of kidnapping and murder and you may get some sense of what Santa Clara resident Debbie Heisler experienced in her life.

Absolutely no one would have blamed her if she had withdrawn from society and wallowed in her pain when her son was kidnapped and murdered seven years ago.

But Debbie didn't do that. Actually, Debbie couldn't do that.

When her 30-year-old son was quite literally taken from her, Debbie and her husband felt the razor-sharp pain of the loss, but had to stay strong. Their son, murdered by his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend, left behind a 6-year-old daughter.

"Seven years ago, my son was kidnapped and was missing for eight weeks," Heisler said. "We found him, but he had succumbed to (his injuries) up in the Arizona mountains. It was a very difficult thing to go through.

"During that time, I was trying to find something .. some meaning .. out of what we were going through and how we could help someone else."

Heisler said that she simply couldn't feel sorry for herself because she had a duty to take care of this little girl, who had lost her father to murder and her mother to prison.

"The first thing in my mind and in my husband's mind was how do we make this ... well there were only two ways this could go. She could either succumb to everything that's happened to her in her young life or we could help see a positive way out and to help her grow in stead of living in the trauma she was experiencing."

So Debbie and her husband set out to raise this grandchild the best they could -- as her grandparents. She admits she doesn't have the energy she did as a mom and certainly doesn't fit in with the parents of her granddaughter's friends.

But the Heislers vowed to do their best.

Debbie also wanted to do more, and with the help of Suzie Abbott, started what's now called the Blue Butterfly House.

Abbott, who also lost a child (Katie) and experienced difficulty in how (or who) was going to raise her child's two kids, teamed up with Heisler to start the Blue Butterfly House, named after David’s favorite color and Kristina’s love for butterflies.

The "house" in St. George, provides a safe facility for children to have a neutral location for court-ordered supervised visits with parents or other loved ones.

"There really wasn't a place like this in our area," Heisler said. "We needed a safe place for families to visit, for children to play."

The Blue Butterfly House has one simple need. Money.

As a non-profit organization, the BBH is operated 100 percent by volunteers.

To get involved as a volunteer or to donate, visit the Blue Butterfly House website or call 435-222-9525.

Heisler was a guest on the Andy Griffin Show Monday morning. To listen to the podcast of the show, click here.


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