HAMILTON, Ala. (WIAT) — “I feel like I never really thanked her enough, she left so many amazing values,” said April Cagle, the daughter of Linda Cole who was murdered inside of her tax preparations office in a Hamilton double homicide that also took the life of Donnie Miller.
Their deaths one year ago raised questions about mental illness and access to guns, and the answers to those questions can’t replace the loss these victim’s families still feel a year later.
Cagle feels inspired, gracious and in awe of the progress she and her family have made since Cole died in her arms; in fact, she’s seen a silver lining in her faith and purpose, all thanks to her mom.
“My mom was always the same, always so full of life and income tax was her passion and I never really realized her passion until she was gone,” Cagle said.
After a shooting rampage struck the core of Hamilton, a year later there is a sense of calm. Flowers no longer cover the outside of Linda Cole’s tax preparation office, and the bullet holes are now hidden as the city tries to move on from tragedy.
“I felt like something was missing, I didn’t really know what. I began to pray and, and seek God’s guidance you know, talked to mom a lot, you know, what should I do,” Cagle said.
The spirit of her mother blessed her with an opportunity to move 15 miles away from horrid memories.
Cagle followed her mother’s passion and opened her own tax preparation office with a friend in Detroit, Alabama, and her mom’s clientele stayed true to form.
“If mom done their taxes last year and got back ten dollars more and it’s like well your mom got me back …so then it becomes a competition,” she laughed.
Her mother somehow still provides humor in her absence, while Cagle struggles to find forgiveness for her mother’s alleged killer.
“The state of Alabama needs to step up in my opinion, and fund that department more or we’re going to have more people like this.” Those were the words of Marion County Sheriff Kevin Williams the day the tragedy happened, referring to people like the double homicide suspect Jimmy Cooper, who police said checked into a mental institution but then left. But, even a year later – it still prompts calls for more help for law enforcement who have to deal with those suffering from mental instability.
“Our law enforcement does need the support and the backing from all of those, the governor and on up, then a lot of times you don’t expect it to be as bad as what it is and then it turns out to be tragic,” Cagle said.
Other law enforcement leaders whom CBS42 spoke with agreed with Sheriff Williams and said the state needs more beds, facilities, long-term care, and trained staff to take care of those with mental illness; without it, those very people get pushed back onto the community.
Jimmy Cooper remains in prison awaiting trial.