Remembering loved ones lost to violent crime

By Tara Morgan - bio | email

HOPEWELL, VA (WWBT) – An emotional night for dozens of people struggling to get through the holidays after losing a loved one to a violent crime. The Central Virginia Victim Services Coalition held its 14th annual tree lighting memorial service last night.

It wasn't just the cold air that brought on a chill, but also the names of homicide victims spoken by friends and relatives. For Rose Matko and Deborah Best, another Christmas goes by without their sons Ryan and Derek.

19 year old Derek was murdered in January 2007, two weeks after the holiday his mom says he loved so much.

"His Christmas presents still on his bed, I'm not going to touch anything. I just can't," said Deborah Best.

Seven months after Derek's death, 16-year-old Ryan Matko was also shot and killed.

"I wanted to do something for him for the holidays and there's really not much that I can do, so I thought this would be a nice way to honor his memory," said Rose Matko.

Rose and Deborah joined other grieving families in placing golden ribbons on a remembrance tree. It's a tradition that began 14 years ago. But it's the first year for these two moms who now share a special bond. Someone to lean on during tragic anniversaries and holidays.

"Tonight we should be shopping for our children. Right now I should be taking Derek out to buy the latest guitar. I should be doing so much, but I'm here suffering with all these other people because someone took our child's life," said Best.

Rose Matko still has to wait to find out the fate of her son's killer when Detavis King is sentenced in February.

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