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Resting Places / Chapter Fourteen: Facing up to forever

NORTHAMPTON The deer stepped out of the woods and advanced slowly through rows of gravestones. Lights were coming on in the houses that border Spring Grove, but in the deepening dusk, the deer moved almost unseen. On the edge of the cemetery, a woman in a small green house finished her supper of asparagus on toast and looked out the window toward a black headstone. She watched the deer pause, then move closer to the place where the mother and child lay in a single 0

Resting Places / Chapter Thirteen: Pieces you can’t put back together

NORTHAMPTON - Yoko Kato could still picture the life her grandson Cedric had lived. In her newest memories he was standing on the couch by the front windows of her dress shop downtown. He would bounce across the cushions like a man on the moon, just tall enough to look over the back of the couch and out onto Main Street. He’d call out “car” and “truck.” Sherry would drop Cedric off at the shop before going to work on days when he was too 0

Resting Places / Chapter Twelve: A father’s testimony

NORTHAMPTON - Three weeks after the deaths, Sean Seabrooks had arrived at Hampshire Superior Court in shackles to enter a plea of innocent to two counts of murder. When the prosecutor described the number of wounds Sherry Morton and her son Cedric suffered, he began to cry. A judge ordered an examination into whether he was competent to stand trial. In jail, Sean remained on a suicide watch. In a courtroom on April 14, 1994, for the first time in public since the killings, he 1

Resting Places / Chapter Eleven: The gift of making a difference  

NORTHAMPTON - A week after the killings, women dressed in aprons and carrying pots and pans gathered at 7:30 a.m. on the Coolidge Bridge to decry family violence. It was the first demonstration of the Women’s Action Coalition-Western Massachusetts. The second came four days later, when a dozen members gathered downtown, with Yoko Kato present, to hold signs and distribute leaflets. “There was a feeling that something was missing in the Valley, a group to take direct action,’’ member Wyeth McAdam told a reporter. “This 0

Resting Places / Chapter Ten: Thoughts that need stopping

NORTHAMPTON - During a pretrial hearing in the murder cases against Sean Seabrooks, the prosecutor screened TV news footage outside Meadowbrook Apartments the morning after the killings. Sherry and Cedric’s bodies had just been taken out. Hearing the reporter’s voice again, Yoko Kato broke into a sweat, then ran shaking from the courtroom, sick to her stomach. Out in the hall, she closed her eyes and counted to 10 forward and backward. A staffer from the district attorney’s office followed her out. She told Yoko 0

Resting Places / Chapter Nine: Weaving her religion

NORTHAMPTON - A few weeks after the killings, Yoko Kato took up a ritual her family practiced in Japan. She created a shrine to her daughter and grandson in the breakfast room of her home and began to speak to them every morning. She shared the day’s first foods with them in the Shinto Buddhist manner, coffee for Sherry and juice in a small cup for Cedric. She placed photos and toys in the shrine, including Cedric’s favorite Sesame Street characters. As a child in 0

Resting Places / Chapter Eight: Five days in March

NORTHAMPTON On March 3, 1993, not two months after the murders, a Northampton court held a 2 p.m. hearing on the terms of Sean Seabrooks’ bail. Jeannie Banas attended and that evening called her mother, Yoko Kato, to tell her that the knife used to kill Sherry and Cedric had been left in her face, near her eye. The next day, Yoko was overcome by panic. At work, listening to talk radio, she heard a program that featured a psychic. She had been to see 0

Resting Places / Chapter Seven: One mother's flight to safety  

NORTHAMPTON - “How has the week gone?” It was Cat Chapin’s opening question to Yoko Kato, as the therapist sat in a rocker decorated with a halo of ivy leaves painted gold. They met Tuesdays and Thursdays for weeks, then months, across Northampton’s seasons. The question to Yoko was vague by design. It allowed Yoko to begin with good or bad news. What panicked her most in the early weeks were specific places. The floor in Sherry’s bedroom. Trampled snow around her grave. A satin 0

Resting Places / Chapter Six: Night of threats foretold 

NORTHAMPTON - Sean Seabrooks began harassing Yoko Kato with phone calls shortly after he started dating her daughter Sherry. Yoko would answer and he’d say nothing. Calls came day and night, to her home and to her dress shop. A Northampton detective traced some of the calls to the shipping department of Merriam-Webster in Springfield, where Sean worked. Others came from his father’s home and still more from his grandmother’s telephone. Yoko suspected that Sean was jealous of her bond with Sherry and saw her 0

Resting Places / Chapter Five: Bundles of sympathy

NORTHAMPTON - Every day the mailman delivered bundles of letters to Yoko’s dressmaking shop, each installment bound in a rubber band. The first week brought hundreds. The owner of a lingerie shop a few blocks away sent a card saying she and her partner were praying Yoko could find strength to live one day at a time, aware of the love around her. On the front of the card: “Memories are like stars in the dark night of sorrow.” Other cards bore similarly earnest messages: 0