Friday, April 18, 2014

The Songs That Helped Them Get Through: How a Brutal Assault in South Park Led to a Concert, and a Mission

Posted by on Fri, Apr 18, 2014 at 3:49 PM

The Angel Band Project
  • Heidi Peters
  • The Angel Band Project

It's been nearly five years since Teresa Butz and Jennifer Hopper were attacked in their home in South Park. It was summer, and the two women were in the midst of planning a commitment ceremony for the fall. The man who assaulted them crawled in through their bathroom window in the middle of the night and, knife in hand, told each woman he would kill the other if he didn't get what he wanted. He raped them both. He then began stabbing them, and though they fought back, Teresa died from her wounds. Jennifer lived, and two years later testified at the trial of the man who attacked them. He is currently in the third year of a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

On Friday, April 25, at the Neptune Theatre, a band made up of Teresa and Jennifer's family and friends will take the stage. Jennifer, a conservatory-trained vocalist, will sing. So will Teresa's brother, Tony Award–winning actor Norbert Leo Butz. The event is timed to coincide with National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, as well as with the End Violence Against Women International conference that's taking place April 22 to 24 in Seattle. Proceeds from concert ticket sales will go to support a nonprofit that was formed in the aftermath of the South Park attacks by two of Teresa's longtime friends from her hometown of St. Louis, Rachel Ebeling and Jean Purcell. The nonprofit, called the Angel Band Project, seeks to provide music therapy to survivors of sexual violence. Here, in their own words, the band members explain how music has helped them get through, and why they think it can help others too.

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