Vigils honor murder victims - NBC12.com - Richmond, VA News

Vigils honor murder victims

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Tuesday evening families who have lost loved ones to violence united at a candlelight vigil and ribbon-tying ceremony in Henrico. It's one of several events in our area to let victims know they have support during what can often be the hardest time of the year - the holidays.

Tragedy can take a toll, especially when violence strikes and a person loses their life without warning. That's what happened to one Richmond family but now they're turning their misery into a mission.

"His life was stolen away from me by a thief in the night," said Francine Horne.

It's a day she and her husband Vance never saw coming.

"There seems to be an emptiness and a void in my life that can't be replaced or filled," she said.

It's been 17 years now since a gunman shot and killed their son, Michael – a college student at the time who was leaving a party with a relative.

"As they were going towards the car, someone approached them and he put a gun in his cousins back and told him do not turn around…he walked over to my son who was right there, put the gun to his nose and that was it," Francine Horne recalls.

Michael died on the scene.

"{I was} very angry and devastated. How could something like that happen to such a good person for no reason at all?" said Vance Horne.

The family says though wounds like this never really heal, the pain becomes a little easier to bear when your story can help someone else.

It's why they're visiting churches, schools, and support groups to share with other families in this situation how they've learned to cope.

"Do you ever forget it? The answer is no but you learn how to live differently…I tell people you will grieve the way you grieve and how you grieve for as long as you grieve," Francine added.

Looking through a photo album of the good times the Horne's shared with their son - and walking through his bedroom still full of memorable moments....

"This is his trophy case," Francine pointed out.

…the tragedy doesn't seem as tough.

"Those are your memories. They can't bring him back but they can keep him alive in our heart," she added.

Tuesday's candlelight vigil united families from Henrico, Hanover, and Caroline Counties at the Henrico courts building. Thursday - another holiday memorial for victims and survivors of violence will take place at Richmond's City Hall. It also starts at 7pm.

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