SAN ANTONIO – For innocent victims and their families, living through a crime is hard enough, and additional burdens such as hospital bills, crime scene cleanup and funeral expenses only make the situation worse. The statewide Crime Victims Compensation Program can help ease those burdens in many cases.
The program offers financial reimbursement if a victim wasn't involved in committing a crime.
Norma Rodriguez accessed the help after her son, Paul Rey Deleon, a 17-year-old Highlands High School senior, was fatally shot in December 2009.
“He was a month away from his 18th birthday, and he was six months away from his graduation,” Rodriguez said.
She said a quick trip back home from dropping off an ex-girlfriend took a deadly turn when the car Deleon was riding in with his brother and sister got to the intersection of Fair and New Braunfels avenues.
“A tan or white Frontier pulled up next to them on the right. My son thought they were going to ask him for directions. Instead, they picked up a double shotgun barrel and aimed it toward the car,” Rodriguez said.
Deleon was fatally shot in the head.
“I tried to donate his organs because I wanted him to live on and give someone the gift of life they needed, but Paulie was already far gone,” Rodriguez said.
The grieving mother got a $30,000 hospital bill and had to pay $12,000 in funeral expenses. A little relief came after learning about the statewide Crime Victims Compensation fund.
“I got reimbursed for the funeral cost and for the portion that my insurance didn't pay,” Rodriguez said.
Jennifer Browne, victims advocate and Not Above The Law founder, said the program reimburses victims across the board, including victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking.
The money can cover counseling, loss of wages and the cost of cleaning up a crime scene.
“They will reimburse up to $25,000 for crime scene cleanup,” Browne said.
Almost a decade later, Rodriguez is still hoping police find her son's killer.
She wants others affected by crime to know there is help.
“Whether they survive or not, it's expensive,” Rodriguez said.
Much of the funding for the Crime Victims Compensation fund comes from offenders' fines and fees, and recipients don't need to meet an income requirement. Click here for eligibility information and to apply for help.
Crime Stoppers is offering a $5,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest in this case.