County Wall and Walk memo­ri­al­izes 119 vic­tims

Cecil Whig - - LOCAL - By CARL HAMIL­TON

ca­hamil­ton@ce­cil­whig.com

— 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

ELK­TON

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.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTOS BY CARL HAMIL­TON

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