Bertha Paulson, Domestic Violence related Murder Victim. Killed by Michael Sheppard on June 15, 2013 in Morgan Hill, CA.

Victim Impact Statement read by Margaret Waskey, next of kin at the sentencing before Judge Edward Lee.

January 19, 2018

My name is Margaret Waskey. I’m Bertha Paulson’s sister and the eldest in the family. I live in Mountain Village, Alaska. Bertha is the youngest of 9 children in our family. We are Native Americans and lived in Alaska all our lives. When we heard Bertha was being abused in CA, we really wanted her to come back, but she didn’t get the chance.

We remember Bertha as a very loving person, very cheerful, kind personality. She never hurt anyone or said bad things about other people. Bertha was always willing to extend a helping hand anytime she was asked. We miss her very much.

I was shocked when I received a call that my baby sister was killed. I wasn’t given any details of how and what happened. I was at a total loss. I called my sister, Theresa, who was living in Anchorage to tell her our baby sister is gone forever. We had no idea how to bring her body home. She was so far away from Alaska. We had no money or a clue of what to do next.

Thankfully, the Medical Examiner who notified me of Bertha’s death referred me to Mothers Against Murder. It was a relief when I connected with Margaret Petros who helped us during the crisis time and until today. With MAM’s help, we were able to have two funeral services, one in Anchorage where my sister and other family members live and then at the final destination of Mountain Village where I live.

No one deserves to be brutally murdered like my sister was. I examined her body when we received it for burial. The pillow in the coffin was big, so I made her a small pillow to rest her head on. Bertha’s neck was broken so it was very difficult to position it. We put handmade mittens, but it was very difficult to put on because her hands were shattered. I still want to know what else was broken in her body. Margaret Petros shared more what she heard at the trial, but no one else talked to us about the details. I’ve been wanting a copy of the Coroner’s report, but they are refusing to release it still. But, I disagree and think I should have a copy by now, it’s been four and half years of not knowing the details.

I’m here to share my family’s pain for losing Bertha and to ask for justice. I think the defendant committed a first degree murder. All the bones he broke in Bertha’s body show he is a viscous person. We wish for the maximum prison term. This man should never be able to walk out of prison so never to hurt another human being.

Thank you for letting me speak, your honor. I want to thank the jury for their time, too. I wish I was here for the trial. But, thanks to Margaret Petros for attending on family’s behalf and for keeping in contact with me since the incident happened. I could not afford to be here today, if it wasn’t for MAM’s financial support. They paid for my airfare ticket and hotel stay. It’s such a relief to be able to speak to the court today. Thankfully, I was given this opportunity.

Thank you, Judge!  Our request for criminal restitution will be addressed by Margaret Petros.

January 19, 2018

Media Advisory: For Immediate Release

Contact: Margaret Petros, Executive Director
Mothers Against Murder (MAM)
Phone # (650) 248-9529 / Email:

What: Giving Bertha Paulson, a homeless woman of Native American descent, a Voice at the Criminal Sentencing. Bertha’s sister, Margaret Waskey, from the state of Alaska will be present and intend to address the judge.

Date and Time: Friday, January 19, 2018 at 9:00 a.m.
Place: Santa Clara South County Courthouse – Department 110:   301 Diana Avenue Morgan Hill, CA 95037

The only murder case of 2013 in Morgan Hill, is coming to conclusion tomorrow when the murderer, Michael Sheppard, will be sentenced by Judge Edward Lee. The jury convicted Sheppard of a second degree murder on November 2, 2017, four an half years after he brutally killed the victim, a vulnerable homeless woman with no family or friends in the area. Bertha’s loving family of Eskimo descent have lived in Alaska all their lives and wanted for Bertha to break away from the cycle of domestic violence victimization and join them. Sadly, they received her body for burial.

MAM is honored to host the elder in the family, Margaret Waskey, who arrived from Alaska yesterday. Please join Mrs. Waskey and MAM at the sentencing hearing to give a voice to the deceased victim and hear how painful the loss of Bertha has been on her family.

The justice system represents the community response to murder. As a community agency, MAM has been this family’s sole support since the incident occurred on June 15, 2013. MAM covered the cost of reuniting victim’s body with her family and the cost of a dignified funeral and burial. MAM also funded Mrs. Waskey’s airfare and hotel cost to fulfill the desire to be present in court. MAM has asked for the court to consider an order of criminal restitution to be paid by the defendant so the agency can help other families in such a need.

If the community at large wishes to donate to MAM to contribute to the cause, please click on the Donate Box on the Home Page of this Web Site.