Woman recounts day she lost her children

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A Fresno woman lost her three children almost 20 years ago in an apartment fire on McKinley Avenue, and now she speaks about her experience. (KFSN)

A Fresno woman who almost 20 years ago lost her three children in an apartment fire on McKinley Avenue speaks about her experience.

The person who was left, Galina Messmer, is now 53. She has since remarried and now lives in New York with her husband and four step children who are the same age her children would be if they were alive today.

Seventeen years have past, but Messmer still takes time to visit a Clovis cemetery, singing a particular song. A song of prayer and hope for her three boys. "No matter how many years past by it's just like yesterday, just like yesterday," Messmer said.

And as she places fresh flowers, reflecting on their short time here she is reminded of the day her life turned upside down. "January 22, 1999," Messmer said remorsefully. "I saw a horrible fire."

Messmer had gone to pick up her kids at Oakwood Apartments on McKinley Avenue. Alexi who was 9, Alexander, 6, and Peter who was 2-years-old had been staying with their dad. The two were separated and had joint custody of the kids. And on this Friday evening, the same day her grandmother died, she was picking them up to take them with her for a week.

But instead of being greeted and comforted by her precious angels, she was approached by an officer who told her three bodies had been found inside the apartment her kids were in. "I just screamed 'no, I want to die' and I collapsed," Messmer said.

Fresno police later found a blood trail from the fire leading to a man who was identities as the boys' father. "Searching the fence line near the freeway when he found a body in the corner near a residential fence and a freeway fence," Mike Guthrie with the Fresno Police Department said.

That's a total of five family deaths for this loving mother, five deaths in just one day. "He killed himself the same way he killed the boys," Messmer remembered. "He actually cut their wrists and throat and then stabbed himself in the heart, it's terrible. And he did that 10 minutes before I was supposed to pick up my children, 10 minutes."

Messmer wrote a book titled Galina's Hope. It recounts the unthinkable tragedy that she says is every mother's worst nightmare. "I am a walking testimony of God's faithfulness," she said. "I have to write the book to give people experiencing on my own life, in a time of sorrow, in a time of tragedy -- it is a power which can give me new strength new life and teach me how to breathe again."

A lesson, just like the song, she never forgets even when wiping away the tears and standing near her children's gravesite singing her message of hope.

Messmer has made it her mission to speak out about domestic abuse and will be attending two book signing events Saturday, January 23rd from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. at Majesty Bible Store and Sunday at Barnes and Noble from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
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