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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

Resting Places / Chapter Four: Lives in a carton

NORTHAMPTON - A week after Sherry and Cedric’s funeral, Yoko Kato drove to Northampton and opened her dressmaking shop. It was Jan. 19, the day after the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Sherry had asked her to watch Cedric, so Yoko had no appointments with customers. She removed the “closed” sign that her lawyer had put up for her and went back to work. She took her phone off the hook, but people kept climbing the stairs. Everyone knew. She resolved not to cry 1

Resting Places | Chapter Three: Baptism at the vault

NORTHAMPTON Waiting for the funeral, Jeannie and Yoko slept together on the big velour couches in Yoko’s living room, with the lights on. Jeannie was afraid to go to sleep. She wondered how her mother would get through calling hours at the Pease Funeral Home on Elm Street. Jeannie was at the funeral home when Sherry and Cedric’s bodies arrived, the day after the autopsies and just a few days after the murders. She and Sherry had gone to school with Ken Pease’s daughter, so 1

Resting Places / Chapter Two: The path of patient No. 40110

NORTHAMPTON Soon after the killings, Yoko went in search of counseling. She drove to her doctor’s office in Florence and waited for a psychotherapist in a room lit by skylights and floor lamps and decorated with a colorful quilt. Behind a counter, staff clattered away at keyboards. When she was called in, Yoko found herself pouring it all out – anguish over her daughter Sherry’s disfigurement and the pain of losing Sherry and Cedric, her grandson. Yoko’s health insurance provided for 10 such sessions a 0

Resting Places / Chapter One: Dreaming it to be ... one woman's road through loss

EDITOR'S NOTE: Twenty years ago this evening, a young woman, Sherry Morton, and her 18-month-old son Cedric were murdered by the boy’s father inside their Northampton apartment. Today, the Gazette presents the first chapter of “Resting Places,” an account of how one relative, Yoko Kato, faced the challenge of living without her daughter and grandson and in time helped bring international attention to the problem of domestic violence. The story continues in serialized installments through Jan. 26. NORTHAMPTON - Sherry lay on the ground under 1

Click GAZETTEER link above for all “Resting Places” installments

"Resting Places" is an account of how the family of Sherry Morton, 23, and her son Cedric, 18 months, faced the challenge of living without them after their murders in Northampton 20 years ago this month. 0