To mark StoryCorps’ 20th Anniversary we are revisiting classic conversations from the past two decades with updates from the participants.

We end this special series by catching up with one remarkable mother in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Mary Johnson-Roy and her son, Laramiun Byrd. Courtesy of Mary Johnson-Roy.

Mary Johnson-Roy lost her only child, Laramiun Byrd, to gun violence in 1993.

One night while at a party, Laramiun got into a fight with another teenager named Oshea Israel. The fight ended when Oshea shot and killed Laramiun.

A dozen years later, Mary went to the penitentiary to visit the man who murdered her son.

Oshea Israel and Mary Johnson-Roy in 2011 and in 2023. By Gaspar Caro and Brian Mogren for StoryCorps.

Soon after Oshea finished serving a prison sentence for murder, Mary brought him to StoryCorps to talk about their relationship. We’ll also hear from them 12 years later.

Mary founded From Death to Life, an organization to help families who have lost children to gun violence, and has spent decades running support groups. But she’s had to step back a bit from her life’s work, after being diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia, a disease with symptoms similar to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Mary Johnson-Roy and her husband, Ed Roy, in Minneapolis, Minnesota  in 2023. By Brian Mogren for StoryCorps.

Since her diagnosis in 2021, Mary’s husband, Ed Roy, has been her main caretaker. Ed also had a son who was murdered, in fact that’s how he and Mary met. Here, they share more about Mary’s illness.

Mary’s community is rallying to help cover her medical expenses through a GoFundMe, which can be found here.

Top Photo: Oshea Israel, Mary Johnson-Roy and Ed Roy in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 2023. By Brian Mogren for StoryCorps.

This broadcast is supported in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Originally aired September 29, 2023, on NPR’s Morning Edition. 

First story aired on May 20, 2011 on NPR’s Morning Edition.