Crime victim memorial brings peace to a grieving mother

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - The Victims-Witness Assistance Program in Columbus held the annual Crime Victims' Rights Memorial Service for those who lost their loved ones to violence.

Twenty-seven new homicide bricks were add to the site at the Riverwalk at South Commons, and more than 300 people attended the event on April 12.

Nedra King Joel lost her son, Donald Gatison in January of 2001 from a double homicide that was caused by a car accident. This is her second time coming out to the event, and she finally purchased a homicide brick with her son's name on it.

"I now have a place where I can come and grieve for now," Joel said. "I'm going through the second tragedy of losing my son."

Joel said she received a call from a cemetery about four weeks ago in Phenix City that her son is supposed to be buried in.

"He was buried there," Joel said. "Or so I thought. We were notified that his remains are not there."

Joel said the cemetery said its not sure where Gatison's remains are.

"My son was decapitated. He was a passenger in the back seat when he passed away," Joel said. "It was devastating. It hasn't gotten easy. I still don't have closure due to his cases being re-opened. I need answers now."

However, Joel said she will try to find peace and comfort for the day, since she saw her son's brick at the site.

"But today, his brick was laid in remembrance as a victim," Joel said. "It's given me closure for today. It's a place of comfort. I can grieve with other families and share my son's story. I can pray and reach out to God and my son when I'm here."

Joel shared her poem about her son and told the audience the brick will brings her solace while the family tries to find out what happened to Gatison's remains.

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