the northwest ohio silent witness project website

local history


The Northwest Ohio Chapter of the Silent Witness Project

The Northwest Ohio Chapter of the Silent Witness Project was established by the Bowling Green State University's Women’s Center in 2002. This initiative was in response to the 2000 murder of a BGSU graduate, Michelle Rizzi, by her husband. Michelle's body was discovered on the BGSU campus in 2001.
In the Spring of 2002, a tree and the first Silent Witness figure was dedicated to Michelle's memory in a ceremony on the BGSU campus. Since then, the Women’s Center staff has researched the murders of many Northwest Ohio women. Unfortunately, many more new figures are added every year for girls and women murdered in Northwest Ohio.
After 10 years figures are “retired” and their chestplates are displayed at the annual Silent Witness Unveiling Ceremony. For these figures, their individual chestplates—where the stories of their lives and their murders are documented—are kept with the display so that we will continue to remember their names and their stories.



national history


Silent Witness National Initiative

For a group of Minnesota women artists and writers, 26 domestic violence related deaths in 1990 was too many. Arts Action Against Domestic Violence was formed through a collaboration between numerous women's organizations, and together they created what has become the Silent Witness National Initiative.
The goal of the Silent Witness National Initiative is to create free-standing, life-sized red wooden figures, each one bearing the name of a woman whose life was ended abruptly and violently at the hands of a husband, ex-husband, partner, or stalker. The original display housed 26 figures, along with a 27th, to represent uncounted women whose murders went unsolved or were erroneously ruled accidental.
Since then, with programs in all 50 states and numerous countries around the world, the Silent Witness National Initiative has grown in many ways. Though the fight against domestic violence is far from over, the effort to increase remembrance, awareness, advocacy, and legislation continues.