DENVER (CBS4) – The parents and sister of a Denver woman was allegedly shot to death by her husband four months ago say they are doing their best to raise the couple’s three boys.

“One of them said early on, ‘Will I still have a happy life?’ And we want to do our best to give them the best chance possible to still have a happy life and a successful life,” Tammy Heman, the sister of slain Kristine Kirk, said on Tuesday.

Kirk’s three boys are now 13, 11 and 7, and are living with their grandparents and Heman in a different home than the Observatory Park house where police say Kirk was killed by her husband, Richard.

“When we start to talk about it, we start to cry. Being a mom, I think, was her most cherished role in her life,” Heman said. “You can’t replace the kind of person she was to them. We’re not their mom. But they’re great kids.”

(credit: Family of Kris Kirk)

(credit: Family of Kris Kirk)

The shooting took place on April 14 at the couple’s home in the 2100 block of South St. Paul Street. It happened while Kirk, 44, was on the phone with a 911 dispatcher and requesting police assistance because her husband had asked her to get a gun and shoot him. She said her husband, 48, was hallucinating and talking about the end of the world after eating marijuana-infused candy and possibly taking pain pills, according to police reports.

A judge ruled in a preliminary hearing last week there is enough evidence for Kirk to stand trial for murder. A detective who testified in that hearing said extensive tests found no evidence of any drugs in Kirk’s system besides marijuana.

In the months since the murder, Heman and Kristine Kirk’s parents, Wayne and Marti Kohnke, said they’ve avoided media interviews and instead focused the big task of raising the boys.

(credit: Family of Kris Kirk)

(credit: Family of Kris Kirk)

WEB EXTRA VIDEO: Watch the complete interview with Kristine Kirk’s sister, parents

“It’s very difficult listening to a child crying for his mother,” Marti Wayne said. “As grandparents, the hardest thing for us is to not be able to give them the one thing they want most, and that’s their mother back.”

During Tuesday’s media interviews, Heman and the boys’ grandparents said they didn’t want to address anything related to the suspect. But they described for the first time their struggles and thanked all the people who have extended financial and emotional support since the crime.

Heman said in this excerpt from a lengthy statement that the tragedy was crushing for the boys:

For the boys, the loss is immeasurable. They were extremely close to their Mom. She was supportive, protective and actively involved in every aspect of their lives. She was their biggest fan whether at school, home, or on the sports field. She was their “go-to” person for everything. And they were her greatest pride and accomplishment in live. She loved them unconditionally and she always put them first, before her own needs. Her close bond and relationship with them was something to envy and that can never be replaced.

Marti and Wayne Kohnke, left, and Tammy Heman, right (credit: CBS)

Marti and Wayne Kohnke, left, and Tammy Heman, right (credit: CBS)

The family said they have all been in counseling since the tragedy. Heman said they have all been close with the boys since they were born and that they “keep us going.” She said that after a busy summer, the boys just started a new school year on Monday.

“We are taking it day by day — sometimes only hour by hour. There is a lot of healing still to be done,” Heman said.

She said she and her parents have had to drastically alter their lives. The boys’ grandparents were retired and living in Summit County before the murder and Heman was traveling extensively overseas for work.

“Everything about our lives and lifestyles changed in an instant,” Heman said.

(credit: Family of Kris Kirk)

(credit: Family of Kris Kirk)

Additional Resources

– A memorial fund has been established for the children of murder victim Kris Kirk. Visit for more information.

– Read the complete family statement from Tammy Heman (pdf).


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