Sting of death casts a chill 18 years later

Chicago Sun-Times - - We Think Commentary -

re­porter, I wrote about Tyesa’s tragic death, about the fam­ily’s two-year jour­ney of court hear­ings, about her killer’s trial.

Tyesa had gone with her boyfriend to see the movie “Juice” at a the­ater near down­town. Af­ter­ward, as she walked into the street, a gun­man opened fire on ri­val gang mem­bers. He was David La­mont Moore, 14, and baby-faced. Ju­rors con­victed Moore as an adult of fir­ing the 9mm round that felled Tyesa that frigid night, Jan. 17, 1992.

I asked to cover the story, con­vinced that too of­ten the vic­tims of homi­cide are quickly for­got­ten once the head­lines have faded — con­vinced that there is a story to tell of the im­pact of mur­der in a way that so many of us still don’t un­der­stand.

For Del­phine Cherry, 52, its im­pact was ad­mit­tedly a mix of ther­apy, prayer and pre­scrip­tions for years to numb the pain. It was the strict reign over her three younger chil­dren, her re­fusal to al­low them to ride a pub­lic bus, her in­ces­sant worry and the knowl­edge that even af­ter hav­ing done all to keep her chil­dren safe, the un­think­able was still pos­si­ble.

Then there was the bit­ter­ness, her de­sire for re­venge, the determinat­ion that she should en­sure her daugh­ter's killer stay be­hind bars. There were the hol­i­days, birthdays, Mother’s Days that passed each year with the re­al­ity that some­one — that Tyesa — was miss­ing.

The Cherry fam­ily’s story is re­peated with great fre­quency, played out time and again be­yond the news­casts and head­lines, most of­ten in Chicago’s black and brown com­mu­ni­ties, where moth­ers and fathers and sis­ters and broth­ers and other rel­a­tives trod the path of be­ing mem­bers of an un­en­vi­able club: rel­a­tives of a mur­dered child.

Eigh­teen years af­ter Tyesa’s mur­der, it seems not much has changed — an as­ser­tion backed in part by the in­scrip­tion on the nearby crypt of an­other 16-yearold in the same ceme­tery: “Blair Holt: 1990 to 2007.”

And by the knowl­edge that in an­other ceme­tery not far away lies Der­rion Al­bert, also 16.

De­spite a trail of tears and the sense­less slay­ing of hun­dreds more chil­dren and teens over nearly two decades, more moth­ers and fam­i­lies than ever should par­take in the rit­ual of vis­i­ta­tions on birthdays, hol­i­days and somber an­niver­saries to a place that ought not to be filled with the in­no­cent young.

But this much has changed — at least for Cherry, now a pro­ba­tion of­fi­cer and hope­ful that she can save other boys from be­com­ing killers. She has for­given the boy, now 32, who took Tyesa. She has found strength and heal­ing enough to live and smile again.

And in her face th­ese days, even as she stands teary eyed in front of a stone cold crypt, there is the light of peace.

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