GREENFIELD — It was the worst day of Patricia Doughty’s life. Two years ago she received word her adult son had been shot and killed in Indianapolis just a few hours after he told his family he’d be right back.

 Jeffrey Herald graduated from Greenfield-Central High School in 1998. He was shot and killed in Indianapolis on Nov. 27, 2021. His family is creating a Christmas tree memorial for others to visit. Submitted photo

The shooting happened at 6 p.m. Nov. 27, 2021. Police were called to the 5400 block Pleasant Hill Circle on the west side of Indianapolis. Officers arrived and found Jeffrey Herald, 42, a father of four from Hancock County, suffering from a gunshot wound to the head. He was taken to a nearby Indianapolis hospital, where he later died.

“It will be two years in a couple of days since we lost Jeff,” Patricia said. “It still doesn’t seem real.”

Since the shooting, Patricia and her family have tried to cope with and understand why Jeff was shot and left for dead.

Unfortunately, Patricia’s pain has not subsided, particularly after the family received word six weeks ago that her daughter and Jeff’s sister, Rachel Herald, 42, was diagnosed with stage IV non Hodgkin’s lymphoma cancer.

“She just started chemo a few days ago so now we’re dealing with that,” Patricia said.

The close-nit family is trying to steady their hearts and souls heading into the Christmas season, Jeff’s favorite time of the year. Rather than breakdown, they’ve decided to turn the pain into something positive. The family is trying to comfort other grieving families in the county who have also lost a child through violence, cancer, accident or natural causes by creating a “Tree of Remembrance” for others to visit.

“We’re putting up a Christmas tree on the corner of our lot where we live where people can pull up and put up an ornament or a decoration they want that reminds them of their child or sibling who has been lost so they will know they are not alone,” Patricia said. “It will be a real Christmas tree with banners up around it and it’s going to be beautiful, a true memorial.”

While the “Tree of Remembrance” will be a memorial for Patricia’s son Jeff, it’s also going to be a place where other families suffering from the loss of a child can visit, say a prayer and hopefully get a blessing this holiday season knowing they are not alone and that they must push forward.

“It was actually Rachel’s idea to do this and we were thinking about doing it downtown where near Jeff was shot in Indianapolis, but we thought doing it here in Greenfield would be safer and that way people can stop by any time day or night,” Patricia said.

The family lives at 977 Cortland Court, Greenfield and want people to stop by and take a few moments to reflect and remember their loved one who has passed. Patricia said if people don’t mind and she’s home, she’ll come out and say hi and share a special moment with those who might need to have their spirit lifted.

“I just thought a memorial place for the people in this county who have lost a child would be a beautiful thing because we know what they’re going through,” Patricia said. “We just had what would have been Jeffrey’s 44th birthday, and I just feel like I’m not the only mom going through this even though I do feel like that.”

Patricia noted she can’t wait to see people pull up and put a heartfelt ornament on the tree and show other’s their child mattered.

“The loss of a child affects everyone — the mothers, the fathers, the siblings and, in my case, Jeffrey’s children,” Patricia said.

The family is hoping the memorial tree is meaningful to others and, if so, they’ll put it up each Christmas moving forward.

“Unfortunately, I think this is going to really resonate with a bunch of people in our county who have lost a child,” Patricia said.

The family picked up the tree this week from Piney Acres in Fortville. The business donated $50 toward the cost of an 8-and-a-half foot tree, Rachel said. Rachel is going to make sure ribbons and markers are set out for people to put their loved one’s name on and attach to the tree.

“We were going to get a much larger tree, but we want people to be able to reach the top after they’ve signed a ribbon to attach and an ornament if they want to,” Rachel said.

The family also created a Facebook page for people to visit and support called the “Tree of Remembrance.” It will allow grieving families a place to post pictures if they can’t make it to the tree site.

The saving grace for Patricia, what keeps her going these days, is the will power to be here for Rachel and help her get through the fight with cancer as well as see justice served to the people who shot and murdered her son.

Homicide detectives with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department have been able to arrest and charge two people suspected of being responsible for Jeff’s death — Laseanne Strode, 25, Indianapolis, and Tavaris Jackson, 26, Indianapolis.

Court records show Strode entered a plea agreement in October and is set to be sentenced on Jan. 24, 2024 in Marion County Superior Court 32. Jackson’s murder trial is currently slated for Dec. 18 in Marion Superior Court 32.