When Vicki’s 23-year-old daughter Shannon was murdered in Philadelphia in 1998, her faith was tested at her core. She and husband Syl had raised Shannon and son Sean in their deeply held beliefs in Catholic social justice teaching on the sanctity of life. When the Philadelphia District Attorney ignored their wishes and sought death for Shannon’s killer, they decided to stand by their beliefs. “If you have a set of principles and you are tested and you don’t stick to your principles, were they ever your principles in the first place?” ask the Schiebers. Ultimately, the murderer was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole just five weeks after his arrest, sparing the family the agony of prolonged capital proceedings.
Vicki has honored Shannon’s memory for several years by crisscrossing the country, telling her story of loss, healing and empowerment to help others. She has educated governors, legislators and reporters in dozens of states and testified before the death penalty study commission in New Jersey. She has also reached out a hand to other families who have suffered the ultimate loss due to murder.
Vicki served very long hours on the Maryland Commission on Capital Punishment in 2008, and was at the heart of the Victims’ Subcommittee and the Commission’s final recommendations to repeal the death penalty and improve and expand services for the surviving families of homicide victims.
Vicki will be honored as “Abolitionist of the Year” on January 15th at the annual conference of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, at the Renaissance Chicago Hotel in her native state of Illinois. For more information on the conference, visit ncadp.org.