Saturday, December 16, 2017
News Roundup

Victim's memory lives on in benefit for CASA

ST. PETERSBURG

By all accounts, she was a powerful advocate. Having built a successful legal practice in St. Petersburg, Stacey Plummer wanted something more. She loved to sing Janis Joplin songs as a member of the band Legal Limit. She adopted three children from several orphanages in Russia, taking on older youngsters because she thought they had greater needs than babies. She loved showing their photographs to colleagues in the Pinellas County Courthouse.

Plummer met Dermot Reid in 2005. They dated six months before marrying in December of that year outside the Hurricane Seafood Restaurant on Pass-a-Grille in St. Pete Beach. She continued her family law practice, and he maintained their house on Tierra Verde, did the food shopping and coordinated many of the children's activities.

By the next summer, the couple were struggling. Plummer filed for divorce, citing her husband's erratic behavior; he had verbally abused her and physically mistreated Molly, the family's Weimaraner, she said.

Reid wanted another chance, and Plummer agreed he could come back. They would get counseling in the hope that things would work out.

Their friends and family couldn't believe it when they learned what happened next: On a Sunday in September 2006, Reid shot Plummer dead, then turned a .38-caliber handgun on himself. He died a week and a half later.

"My sister was well-educated," her brother, Jeffrey Plummer, says today. "She was an attorney. We couldn't have been a closer family. She had 100 percent love and support. She was a great advocate for clients. No one would ever have envisioned that someone as strong as my sister" would have come to such an end.

Which is why Jeffrey Plummer and his wife, Tammy, have set up a memorial fundraiser. The sold-out black-tie event, "The Many Faces of CASA Masquerade in Memory of Stacey J. Plummer," takes place in the St. Petersburg Yacht Club on Friday.

Seven years after her death, and weeks after what would have been her 50th birthday, Stacey's family "thought we had healed enough" to organize a benefit, Jeffrey Plummer says.

"Frankly, had I known how therapeutic it would be," he says, he might have done so sooner. "It really has been remarkable, because of how kind and generous and wonderful people have been."

The proceeds will go to Community Action Stops Abuse, a nonprofit St. Petersburg domestic-violence shelter, crisis-intervention and advocacy group, where lawyer Stacey Plummer often referred clients.

Her death, CASA executive director Linda Osmundson says, "was a big loss for all of us. Because of her position, people were really shocked."

Hence, the disguises that guests at Friday's masquerade will wear, drawing attention to the fact that "there are many faces" to domestic abuse, Jeffrey Plummer says.

The violence happens in neighborhoods where people are struggling to make ends meet, sure. It also happens in gated communities whose residents own top-of-the line appliances, exquisite jewelry and luxury cars.

"For a lot of professional women, it's a well-hidden secret," Osmundson said. "As professionals, we tend to think, 'I should be able to handle this.' "

"The last three months have taught me that it literally is everyone," Jeffrey Plummer said. "People do put forth the face they need to: a strong face, a brave face."

They lived in Pinellas County for three years after her death, but Stacey Plummer's parents, William and Barbara, eventually moved back to Maine, where they care for her children. Julia is 19; Jane, 15; and Jacob "Jake," 13. Stacey's sister, Julie Plummer, and her husband, A.J. Shiben, moved to Maine as well.

"It's been a rebirth for them all," Jeffrey Plummer said.

The entire family plans to be at the gala on Friday, embodying the motto for the evening: "From Tragedy, Hope: From Awareness, Change."

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