Vigil held by Par­ents of Mur­dered Chil­dren

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SUNDAY SELECT - By Kevin Tustin ktustin@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @Kev­inTustin on Twit­ter

UP­PER CHICH­ESTER>> Sept. 25 is a spe­cial day for fam­i­lies cop­ing with the mur­der of a child.

De­clared Na­tional Day of Re­mem­brance for Mur­der Vic­tims back in 2007, it’s a day where mem­bers of the na­tional group Par­ents of Mur­dered Chil­dren hold an­nual vig­ils to re­mem­ber the loss of a child from tod­dlers to adults.

The Delaware County chap­ter held their an­nual me­mo­rial ob­ser­vance at their Liv­ing Me­mo­rial Gar­dens in Up­per Chich­ester Sun­day evening, cel­e­brat­ing both the lives vi­o­lently taken from their par­ents and the chap­ter’s 15th anniversary of the gar­dens’ open­ing.

“The grief is still there, and never goes away,” said POMC Chap­ter Leader Jane McPhee, whose step­daugh­ter was mur­dered back in 2001. “but we do have their mem­o­ries to keep us go­ing. Thank good­ness for pic­tures, ar­ti­cles and any per­sonal items we have been able to pre­serve over the years to re­mind us of them.”

The mem­o­ries are seen on over 50 in­di­vid­ual gar­dens, or plots, on the 3.5 acres of des­o­late wooden so­lace, each dis­tinctly re­served by a bench with the lost one’s name. Pic­tures, sports mem­o­ra­bilia, trin­kets and other no­ta­bles are placed about on the gar­dens by fam­ily mem­bers who have agreed to take care of their loved one’s space.

Brookhaven res­i­dent Dorothy Green has had a gar­den in her son’s name, Jonathan, since his mur­der in March 2014 at the age of 37.

This was the first year she at­tended a vigil for POMC.

“It was very nice and it was a won­der­ful re­mem­brance,” Green said, hold­ing a pic­ture of her son close to her heart, not­ing that he would have turned 40 this Wed­nes­day if he were still alive.

No one has yet been charged for that Ch­ester Town­ship mur­der.

In As­sis­tant District At­tor­ney Michael Galantino’s eyes, jus­tice is one of the three most im­por­tant things for fam­i­lies to have.

“Jus­tice is some­times an elu­sive thing, and I know that some of you have not been able to get jus­tice for var­i­ous rea­sons,” said Galantino. “But all of you need and de­serve jus­tice in some way.”

“For you, I hope that the district at­tor­ney’s of­fice can de­liver some de­gree of jus­tice to the best that we can, that we can work with law en­force­ment and first re­spon­ders and the com­mu­nity… to bring jus­tice for all of you.”

State Rep. Stephen Bar­rar, R-160, of Up­per Chich­ester, who helped open the gar­dens 15 years ago said these par­ents and other fam­ily mem­bers are hard to talk to be­cause of their grief.

“Some­body ripped your heart out, and as a per­son who writes speeches my job is to find in that speech words of com­fort, words that will make things bet­ter some­how, and also words of hope,” said Bar­rar. “You’re in a very tough sit­u­a­tion and it breaks my heart.”

Bar­rar added his shock in know­ing how much larger the space has got­ten since its open­ing.

“It shouldn’t be this big. It should be smaller, not larger,” he said.

When all of the speak­ers had spo­ken, the can­dles lit, and the songs sung, at­ten­dees made the most of the last bit of sun­light to lay flow­ers in the gar­dens, and cross their mes­sages of sup­port to each other.

PHO­TOS BY KEVIN TUSTIN — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

State Rep. Stephen Bar­rar, R-160, of Up­per Chich­ester, speaks to fam­ily mem­bers at Sun­day evening’s vigil.

The lawn fix­ture at this gar­den asks peo­ple to trea­sure the mem­o­ries. Fam­ily mem­bers dec­o­rate gar­dens with pho­tos, signs and other ef­fects to help them re­mem­bered their lost loved ones.

Dorothy Green, of Brookhaven, holds a pic­ture of her son, Jonathan, dur­ing the Delaware County Chap­ter of Par­ents of Mur­dered Chil­dren’s an­nual vigil at the Liv­ing Me­mo­rial Gar­dens. Jonathan was mur­dered in Ch­ester Town­ship in 2014 at the age of 37.

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