County Wall and Walk memorializes 119 victims
— Susan McGlothlin and Tamekia Russ attended the seventh-annual Cecil County Victims Wall and Walk in the Unity Garden in front of the Cecil County Circuit Courthouse on Wednesday, as two of the newest survivors to participate.
They had no personal reason to attend the last year’s event, which memorialized Cecil County residents who lost their lives at the hands of others.
But about 1:30 a.m. May 3, less than three weeks after last year’s victims memorial was held, a gunman or gunmen entered a home in the 100 block of East Village Road in Elkton and fatally shot Russ’ daughter, Ta Yonna Russ, 22, and Russ’ boyfriend, Derrick Smith, 38. (Russ, her boyfriend and her daughter lived together in that townhouse.)
As of Thursday, no one had
Rising Sun-area resident Susan McGlothlin holds a poster memorializing her caregiving friend, Ta Yonna Russ, 22, and Derrick Smith, 38, who were gunned down last May.
been charged in that double murder, which remains an open homicide case for Elkton Police Department investigators, and no motive had been released.
“I never even thought about this (victims memorial) last year,” Russ said. “I’m
glad I came today. It gives me some peace, just being able to talk to people who basically went through what I went through.”
Russ lost a daughter and a boyfriend to the violent act.
McGlothlin, who has been confined to a wheelchair Elkton-area resident Mona Little (left) and Lois Devonshire, of Wilmington, Del., stand in front of the victims wall. Little’s son, Donald Ray Gillis, was murdered in Florida in April 2009. Devonshire has befriended the mother of Erica Green, who was murdered in Elkton in May 2010.
since suffering injuries in a traffic accident some 10 years ago, lost a helpful, close friend.
Ta Yonna had been McGlothlin’s professional weekend residential aid for two years before she was killed.
Working for the same home care company as her daughter, Russ has been a residential caregiver to McGlothlin, who lives near Rising Sun, for more than two years, working Monday through Friday.
“She is as much our family is anyone,” Russ said.
Russ explained that Mc-
Glothlin had developed friendships with her and her daughter — and vice versa — because the mother and her daughter were significant parts of McGlothlin’s daily life. Because of the closeness between the caregivers and McGlothlin, the murders of Ta Yonna Russ and Smith profoundly impacted McGlothlin.
During Wednesday’s event, McGlothlin clutched a homemade poster memorializing Ta Yonna Russ and Smith. It was adorned with purple flowers and photos of mom, boyfriend and daugh- ter. Written at the top of the poster in fancy cursive lettering was, “Family, where life begins and Love never ends.”
Ta Yonna Russ spent most of her last day alive taking care of McGlothlin, who fought back tears Wednesday as she recalled how happy her caregiver was.
“Her sister’s baby shower was that evening, and she was very excited. She talked to her sister a couple of times on the phone that day, talking about the baby shower and what it’s like having a baby,” McGlothlin said.
McGlothlin benefitted from attending the Victims Wall and Walk event, as did Russ, she said.
“This is a lovely memorial. It’s touching and it’s peaceful,” McGlothlin commented.
On Wednesday, the names and/or photos of 119 victims adorned the makeshift wall and the colorful placards lining the sidewalk of the front courtyard, reported Valda Rotolo, victim/witness coordinator with the Cecil County State’s Attorney’s Office, which sponsors the annual event.
Last year, 112 victims were memorialized. This year’s increase of seven is attributed mostly to relatively recent incidents in which people lost their lives at the hands of others, such as the case with Ta Yonna Russ and Derrick Smith.
One of the victims added to the wall this year, however, was killed in Cecil County in 1975, according to Rotolo, who explained that the decedent’s survivors recently learned about the Victims Wall and Walk and requested that he be included.