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Dear Tom,

My friend Janell is smart, kind and giving single mom raising 3 children on her own.  We met a few years ago, we were both paralegals at a law firm.  She left the firm in 2013 to attend law school but had to drop out.

Her older sister, Keisha (a mother of 4) went missing along with her 4-year-old daughter and infant son.  It turns out that the husband abducted them.  An amber alert went out and he was captured in Indiana with the two children but Keisha was nowhere to be found.

He is charged with Keisha’s murder but refuses to disclose what he did with her.  Janell held a memorial service for Keisha and has taken all four children to live with her.

Crime scene investigators had to use her parent’s DNA to determine if the blood on the scene was Keisha’s and, sadly, it was.  They also said that there was so much blood that there was no way she could still be alive.  Her father went into shock and died later that night of a cardiac arrest.

After paying for 2 funerals and now raising 7 children on her own, Janell went back to law school this fall, but this will be the first holiday without her father and her sister – and the kid’s first Christmas without their mom.

I don’t know how she holds it all together but I think the encouragement that someone cares is all she needs to help her get through her these difficult times.

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THURSDAY MORNING MOM: Janell Foster  was originally published on