Vigil marks three years since Alabama Pastor's death in Columbus - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Vigil marks three years since Alabama Pastor's death in Columbus

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COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

Saturday, March 8, 2014, marks three years since the murder of an East Alabama Pastor. The victim's sister, Joan Gibson, says March 8 will never be the same again for her family.

Gibson, along with friends and other family members, came together at 1 p.m. under the Oglethorpe Bridge in Columbus for a vigil in honor of Rev. Blanchard Thomas.

"March eighth was the day my brother passed," Gibson said. "Three years have passed so fast. This is the day we release our brother by celebrating and remembering his life."

Attendees sang songs, told stories about Thomas, and discussed ways to stop violence in the Chattahoochee Valley. 

Thomas, a reverend at Mount Missouri Baptist Church in Pittsview, Ala., was shot in the head under the Oglethorpe Bridge on U.S. 280. The pastor had offered to give a woman named Keedra Brummitt a ride to Columbus from Phenix City after seeing she had been assaulted by someone else.

When Rev. Thomas arrived at Booker T. Washington Apartments to drop Brummitt off, four men were waiting for them. The men mistook the pastor as someone who had assaulted Keedra Brummitt.

Gibson said what happened to Thomas was unfortunate and unfair. She said her brother was known for helping people.

"He was a nice brother," Joan said. "He was a loving brother. He loved helping others."

Authorities told News Leader Nine that the men kidnapped and robbed Thomas of his cell phone. They forced him to drive under the Oglethorpe Bridge, where he was shot in the head.

Donnie Forte was sentenced to two life sentences without parole in this case. Although this his sentencing brought closure to the family, Joan said the pain will never be healed.

"Every March eighth, I'll look back and rehearse," Joan said. "The day my brother lost his life will be something I will always remember. We will always remember the day he left."

Joel Thomas, the pastor's cousin, Michael Ingram, Jody Perry and Keedra Brummitt were all involved in this case, and the four all pleaded guilty.

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