Stephanie Roper was just 22 years old when she was brutally murdered 40 years ago, but her loved ones have ensured that her life and legacy are still remembered through their work advocating for victims’ rights.
Stephanie’s mother, Roberta Roper, thinks of her every day.
“She has left a legacy that her family is most proud of, and you know, it’s not just about Stephanie, it’s about any American who suffers the undeserved consequences of criminal violence,” she said.
Now, Roberta Roper works with the Maryland Crime Victims’ Resource Center, a victims’ rights group in Upper Marlboro, Maryland.
The center is holding a 5K run and resource event at Watkins Regional Park on April 16 to raise awareness about the group and its mission.
Her daughter’s former classmates at La Reine High School in Suitland have also raised more than $10,000 to support the center.
Sandra Sanna-Buckles is a spokesperson for the organization.
“The increase in crime just means that we need to work harder because we need to make sure that everyone knows that we’re here. There’s not a lot of opportunities for people to get free attorneys and we are one of them,” Sanna-Buckles said.
The center’s mission is to make sure victims receive justice and are treated with dignity and compassion, a goal Stephanie Roper’s parents have fought for for decades.
“When a crime occurs, individuals feel very isolated and alone, and they don’t even know the questions to ask, and we’re there,” Roberta Roper said.
Stephanie Roper’s legacy is seen in courtrooms every day. Victims are heard through impact statements during sentencing at criminal trials.
“The victim impact statement was optional, and the judges didn't need to take it. The courts didn’t need to listen to the feelings of the victim’s family and survivors at all,” Sanna-Buckles said.
Those attending Saturday’s event will learn about victims’ rights, remember those lost to violence and honor heroes who are still fighting for the cause.