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Homicide victims’ vigil links mothers

April 6, 2017

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) — The vigil Tuesday at the Allen County Courthouse was a time for people to come together and remember the ones they lost.

Unity came when the names of the homicide victims from the last five years were read by staff from the Victim Assistance office of the Fort Wayne Police Department while each person, sitting or standing under the rotunda, held a tea light.

About 200 people came to the Candlelight Vigil that has been held for nearly 30 years, said Jessica Crozier, director of Victim Assistance. It is scheduled during Victim Rights Week as a tribute to the victims and their families.

It wasn’t easy for these people who lost someone close to them. For Mattie Carter, who lost her son, Jamarkis Carter, on Sept. 26, 2016, it was her first time attending the vigil.

She greeted Mary Hunter, who lost her son, Benjamin Hunter, on Oct. 12, 2014.

Both of them had tears in their eyes as they put their arms around each other.

“We pull together as mothers,” Hunter said because these mothers are in a select group who have not only lost a child but lost one to violence.

“People don’t know,” Carter said. “It’s hard to explain.”

Although nothing and no one, not even time, can take away the pain, local services for them have grown. Victim Assistance offers crisis counseling, case status information, assistance in filing for restitution and compensation, among other services.

Each year, Crozier’s office handles at least 5,000 cases, she said. Last year, the number was 6,800 with a staff of seven or eight.

Karen Richards, Allen County prosecutor, made a plea for people who know something about a crime to come forward and serve as a witness for law enforcement.

“We have got to have witnesses and victims come forward and testify,” Richards said, adding that she knows coming forward with information and testimony is not easy. We will “never ever have peace or justice until people are willing to tell us what they know.”

One mother, Vickie Williams, voiced frustration at what she saw as the slowness of getting information on the killing of her son, Jordan Calland, who was 22 when he was killed in 2013. It is a common complaint with mothers.

They come to bear witness. Komeka Thomas last saw her son, Leon’Dre Kyles-Thomas, 19, at home on Aug. 13, 2016. Then she went to the grocery store.

“They had to find me,” Thomas said. It was her first time at the vigil.

“I’ll be coming every year for my son,” she said.


Source: The (Fort Wayne) Journal Gazette, http://bit.ly/2o4vWGZ


Information from: The Journal Gazette, http://www.journalgazette.net

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