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A year after mom's murder, this Utah family is complete once again

Posted at 4:29 PM, Sep 25, 2023

TOOELE, Utah — It’s been a hard year for five Utah siblings after losing their mother to domestic violence in August 2022.

But Monday was a new beginning and the start of a new chapter in their lives.

“Check that off, it’s done, I've got my babies — you guys are now with Nana 100% officially,” said Sonja Washington as she beamed, walking out of the Tooele Courthouse on Monday.

It’s been a year of ups and downs for her grandkids.

“It’s like a phoenix: out of the ashes, something beautiful comes out of it,” she added.

The children's mother, Porchia Patterson, was shot and killed last year. Even more heartbreaking, her kids were at home when it happened.

“To hear such news, it crushed my heart, it turned my world, their world, upside down, because it’s not a call that a mother or anyone wants to hear,” recalled Sonja, who was Porchia's mother.

Porchia left behind five children — Andrie, Kevin, Javon, Julissa and Sur. That's when their Sonja took her five grandkids under her wing.

Sur lives with his aunt now, and Sonja already had custody of Andrie and Kevin. On Monday, her family officially became complete on paper when Sonja formally adopted Javon and Julissa.

“Really good hearing that we’re finally adopted by our grandma,” said Javon.

“I look at it as a blessing; it’s a bittersweet blessing. It’s pain, it’s sorrow, it’s laughter, it’s sometimes anger, but at the end of the day, we’re still family,” added Sonja.

It’s hard not having Porchia around, but they are staying strong.

It was an unforgettable day, surrounded by loved ones in the courtroom.

“Everybody is there for us and I appreciate them a lot,” said Kevin.

“That feeling knowing that people care, that people want to show up and be here. Out of a tragedy, something good has happened, and I appreciate it,” said Sonja.

She hopes their story serves as a reminder to others in hard times that they are not alone.

“It might feel like you can’t right now because you’re hurting or you’re afraid, but take that one step and then take the next step, and you go and get somewhere where you’re safe. Don’t stay, always walk away. Walk away to live another day," she said.

For this family, this is just the beginning.

“Today is day one of the rest of their lives and mine,” said Sonja.


Domestic violence victim resources (free, 24/7, confidential):

  • Utah Domestic Violence Coalition:
    • Hotline: 1-800-897-LINK (5465)
    • Online help:
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline
  • If you or someone else is in immediate danger, or in an emergency, call 9-1-1 immediately.