Garrard McClendon describes it as a "divine" moment.
Last October, moments before he was to go on air to host his CLTV show, "Garrard McClendon Live," his wife, Quanica, called him at his desk. She was frantic.
"A weird feeling came over me," McClendon said, recounting the day.
Against Riles' protests, McClendon got in his car alone to drive to his parents' home in Hammond.
Despite the afternoon rush hour, McClendon said there were no cars on the Dan Ryan expressway. He could hear the air whipping up against the car, but nothing else.
It was at that moment, McClendon said, that he forgave the murderers. He didn't know the details of the crime -- that two teenagers barged into the home of his parents, Milton and Ruby McClendon, bound and gagged them, and shot them when they had only $50 to offer.
The two African-American teens, ages 17 and 18, were just the kind of people McClendon had been trying to reach out to on his live call-in show in which McClendon discusses the news of the day with pundits, community leaders and callers.
"It was a released burden," he said. "I got clarity, man. A spirit told me to let it go. If I let the anger consume me, I'd lose."
For the next few weeks, McClendon held a very public mourning. After the Rev. Jesse Jackson prayed with him at his parents' house, he held a news conference in which he publicly forgave the killers. Three days later, he appeared on a local radio show where he again offered forgiveness and reached out to other families of murder victims. He invited the public to his parents' funeral, and more than 1,000 people came to St. Paul Episcopal Church in Munster, Ind. A crew of television cameras stood outside.
A week later, McClendon was back on the air.
"It's what my parents would want," he said. "They would want me to get back in the trenches, keep spreading love and spreading knowledge to people and keep moving."
On Oct. 19, 2009, Reo Jonta Thompson, 17, and Gregory Brooks, 18, forced their way into the home of Milton, 78, and Ruby, 76, McClendon at gunpoint, according to police reports. They told them they had car trouble and needed to use a phone, reports said.
Disappointed in the $50 Ruby McClendon offered, the teenagers forced Milton McClendon to crawl to an upstairs bedroom where the two teenagers hit him with a vase and kicked him before taking jewelry, according to a police report.
They then bound and gagged the couple in a downstairs bathroom. After ransacking the home, they returned to the bathroom and shot the McClendons multiple times, police said.
Using the McClendons' Cadillac El Dorado, they drove the bodies of Milton and Ruby into a forest preserve, where they dumped them. They then drove the car around town for two days and traded in the McClendons' jewelry, worth about $70, at a local pawn shop.
Garrard has attended each of the hearings in his parents' case. He said it's saddening and telling that the two prime suspects are black teenagers.
"You expect someone older," McClendon said. "You expect someone with a large record sheet. You expect someone who is considered a usual suspect. This was not the case. We need more positive men working with boys and young men on a daily basis giving them, showing them better alternatives."
Thompson and Brooks will go on trial this April. They have pleaded not guilty.
Sharing the tragedy
His parents' murders have given TV host Garrard McClendon even more motivation to make a difference
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