Crime Victims Memorial held in Columbus

By Taylor Barnhill  - bio | email

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -  City leaders and community members took time Sunday to remember those lives lost to violent crimes.

The Victim's Services Program is part of the District Attorney's Office and has been hosting this memorial service for a few years now. Sunday they gathered at the Columbus Riverwalk to celebrate the lives they have lost.

"We are all here today because someone decided that a precious loved on of ours no longer had the right to live," said Bernice Johnson at the beginning of her speech. Johnson is the mother of Ann Curry, who was murdered, along with her children, by her husband 25 years ago.

Director of Victim's Services Shelly Hall told News Leader Nine, "It's a memorial to honor and remember all victims of crime and homicide."

"My brother, Kenneth Jackson, was brutally murdered 15 years ago when he was gunned down by three young men whom he thought were his friends," stated Laketta Belin, who has been dealing with her brother's death for years.

Hall explained, "It gives family members a chance to speak, a chance to heal, and a chance for the community to be present and stand up and say we care and we remember too and we will never forget. That's when the healing can really start."

"My 25 year old son, David Heath Jackson, was murdered in his Lakebottom home in the middle of the day by a home invader," said Angi Idel. She was the guest speaker for the event and says, "I got involved in Victim's Rights right after Heath's tragedy and I felt like people need to focus on the positive. I felt like I had a message to share that Heath would have wanted me to share for him."

"We're going to be planting a smaller tree and it's something we'll be able to see throughout the years that grows. And as it grows, we'll be able to see all the healing our victims are able to do," added Hall.

Angi Idel ended by saying, "We all have one thing in common and that is we lost someone we love very dearly. I just feel like the more we can show support for one another, there's strength in numbers. I think for us to get together and to share helps everyone involved."

Along with the dogwood planted Sunday at the Riverwalk, members of the Victims Rights Office are also planting a fully bloomed cherry tree. These trees will represent this year's theme -- "Reshaping the Future, Honoring the Past".

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