It was a moment that forever changed the lives of Scott, Katie and Lindsey Wittich. "That moment in time just stopped," Scott Wittich said.
"I play it in my mind all of the time, probably more than I should. It's a scene I will never ever forget," said Lindsey Wittich.
That moment happened on July 31, 2007 at a home in Delhi. It was just a few weeks after Scott and Mary Ann Wittich's divorce was final.
Their 20-year old daughter, Lindsey, had just gotten home from work. "I just walked up the steps. I saw Jacob. Something just looked funny to me. I got really close to him and that's when you see everything. I saw blood and he was the only person I saw. I didn't even know what happened. I looked over and saw Sydney and I could just see a hole in her shirt," Lindsey said.
Inside a second-story bedroom, Lindsey discovered the body of her 10-year-old brother, Jacob, and her seven-year-old sister Sydney. Her first frantic call was to her dad.
"I get the call "They're dead! They're dead! Everybody is dead.' I turned around in the middle of the street," Scott said.
Scott got there even before emergency crews arrived.
"I grabbed Jacob and was holding him and I reached over and touched Syd. Just about that time the police showed up," said Scott.
The Wittich's home became a crime scene. Lindsey, overcome by what she saw, was put in an ambulance. That's when Katie Wittich, 24-years old at the time, arrived.
"All I remember is my dad telling me what had happened. I didn't believe him. I collapsed in the neighbor's yard," Katie said.
As the scene outside their home grew, reality sank in. Investigators also found 44-year old Mary Ann's body along with a gun in the same bedroom.
The next day, the Hamilton County Coroner called the scene the most disturbing he'd ever witnessed.
"The gun was placed up against the chest and two bullets were shot. Even more disturbing is that on the 7-year-old, an X was placed over the heart with a magic marker," former Hamilton County Coroner Dr. O'Dell Owen said at the time.
What was disturbing to the coroner, was beyond comprehension to the Wittich family.
"You sit there and you think, and it kind of hits you, like wow, she did this," Lindsey said.
"I don't know that you ever would say that the person you were married to was capable of doing that. I don't understand how anyone can kill their own children," Scott said.
To those questions, the Wittich's learned there are no answers.
"I lost my best friends," said Lindsey.
Scott spent time at the cemetery talking to Jacob and Sydney, trying to figure out what to do next.
"I kept thinking I had to go on. I didn't know why, but I had to go on," Scott said.
About a year after losing his son and youngest daughter, Scott knew what he had to do. "I guess, maybe selfishly I never wanted them to be forgotten," said Scott.
He got together with Katie and Lindsey and shared his idea of starting a foundation in memory of Jacob and Sydney to help other families who'd gone through a tragedy, especially ones involving children.
Katie remembers her initial response. "Kind of like, you want to do what? Who's going to do this? Who's going to help?" she said.
It turns out there were a lot of people who wanted to help. Soon after, Wittich's foundation, "From our Angels to Yours" or FOATY was born.
"There was another incident in Delhi with a father taking the life of a mother in front of the children. The family with four girls had a lot of medical issues. So they were pretty much our first recipient," said Scott.
And since then, FOATY has helped dozens of other families. Last month, the foundation held its fifth fundraiser. FOATY funds scholarships at St. Dominic's School, where Jacob and Sydney went. The foundation also helps pay for Christmas shopping for underprivileged children. At the Ronald McDonald House, parents of sick children at Cincinnati Children's Hospital find comfort in a room bearing the names of Jacob and Sydney.
"Just hearing we are changing people's lives, just because ours were hurt doesn't mean we can't do good," said Katie.
And the Wittich's say they'll continue to do good. They've recently set their sights on the Cincinnati organization ProKids, which helps children in the foster system.
"I think there's many more lives to touch," Katie said.
Six years after their lives changed, Scott is now remarried. Lindsey and Katie live together, they say it brings both of them comfort. As for the Wittichs' angels, they continue to touch lives here on Earth. "Using Jake and Syd's memory to touch a lot of people any way we can," said Scott.
For more information on "From Our Angels to Yours" go to https://www.facebook.com/#!/FoatyFromOurAngelsToYoursInMemoryOfJakeSyd
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