Screening Blog

Hire Thinking

woman with binoculars

A Murder Case for Proper Background Screening: How One Woman’s Life is Making a Difference

Sue Weaver, a well-educated business woman with an MBA running a successful embroidery company in Florida, had contracted with Burdine’s, a premier department store chain in the state, to have the air ducts in her home cleaned. Unbeknownst to her, both of the men sent on the service call had criminal records – one was a twice-convicted sex offender on parole.

Six months after the service work was completed, the sex offender returned to Sue’s home to rape and beat her to death. He then set her home on fire with the intent of destroying any evidence.

Years after her sister’s horrific death, Lucia Bone founded the Sue Weaver CAUSE (Consumer Awareness of Unsafe Service Employment), a nonprofit organization dedicated in Sue’s memory. Lucia believes Sue’s murder could and should have been prevented.

“Through education, awareness and advocacy , CAUSE works to prevent tragedies like Sue’s from happening to others,” states Lucia. It is our hope that her story will raise awareness for both consumers and employers on the dangers of not knowing who you hire.”

Lucia, in her quest to educate others, knew she needed help from background screening experts and reached out to industry leaders involved with the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS). Hire Image CEO Cunneen worked closely with Lucia Bone and other industry experts to develop the best in class standards for background checks for in-home workers. “Lucia is an amazing woman with so much passion to educate and to keep others from the same tragedy her family suffered. She works tirelessly to promote awareness and to advocate for proper background checks,” states Cunneen.

“CAUSE firmly believes that everyone has the right to work and that there is an appropriate job for everyone. But not everyone should have a job allowing them access to our homes, our family or the vulnerable populations,” Lucia notes. “Service companies don’t screen because they don’t want to spend the money. Many say they struggle to find quality workers and they’d lose half their workforce if they screened. I say they can’t afford NOT to screen.”

What about non-service industry businesses? Can every company and employer learn a lesson from Sue Weaver’s murder case?

“Employers think they know their own employees, but do they know what their workers are doing once they leave the building at night? What have they done since they have been hired or passed the initial screening? Simply Googling a job candidate’s or employee’s name and doing a cheap background check online won’t reveal their thorough background,” Lucia comments. “A proper background check needs to be done by a reputable screening company. In my opinion, an employer is morally and legally obligated to protect the safety and security of their workforce and their customers. Whether in banking or manufacturing or healthcare — no matter what industry — a thorough criminal background search is a valuable tool allowing the employer to put the right person in the right position.”

When it comes to in-home workers, it’s important to remember a few salient points: just because a company is reviewed positively on Angie’s List or Yelp, it doesn’t mean that same worker will be assigned to come to your home or that you’ll have the same positive experience. And, as with Sue’s case, crimes are not always committed on the spot the moment the worker is performing service in the home. “Remember, Sue’s killer came back six months later,” continues Lucia. “If an small business without deep pockets is responsible for sending a killer into a customer’s home, going out of business is not a solution to escape any legal liability. In Sue’s case, the Burdine’s subcontractor went out of business and was ordered to settle out of court in a civil case. Simply put, a business of any size cannot affort not to do background checks. The liability will follow you.”

Lucia recalls having to visit a Fortune 500 company with stores throughout the U.S. While making a pitch for CAUSE certified background checks to company leaders, she took out a copy of a recent newspaper. “The headline was, ‘I ordered kitchen cabinets and got a sex offender,’” Lucia states. “That was a direct quote from a consumer and was so very powerful. Needless to say, they signed up for our CAUSE program.”

In order for Lucia to reach more businesses and to continue educating consumers on how to be CAUSE-safe, she is conducting a crowdfunding campaign  “Speaking engagements, ads in the media, and continuing education efforts such as traveling to Washington, D.C. to testify for legislation all cost money,” adds Lucia. “With minimal staff and our excellent volunteers, we have very little overhead so a good percentage of our donations go back into our important work in protecting families and employers.” The first annual “Chipping in for a Cause” charitable golf tournament  is planned on September 18 in Palm Springs to benefit the Sue Weaver CAUSE. It coincides with the NAPBS annual conference September 18-20, 2016.

Leave a Comment

Scroll to Top