'Survivors of homicide' candlelight vigil brings community together in shared circumstance

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On Friday, the 19th annual Candlelight Vigil and Service of Remembrance was held at John Wesley United Methodist Church in West Ashley.

Many gathered to honor and remember the lives of their loved ones, who were involved in a homicide.

Vanessa Halyard says this service helps her to cope through the holidays without her son, William Halyard, who was shot in an unsolved shooting back in 1998.

"He was a student at South Carolina State University he was to graduate that December he never got to see his dreams come true. He was a student and also a member of the ROTC, he was to be commissioned to be a second lieutenant in the Army but never go to serve our country. He was shot down and killed during college night along with another student, four others were wounded," she said.

Members of the Survivors of Homicide joined together in song, listed to poems, and watch a praise dance selection from the praise dance team of Mother Emmanuel A.M.E Church.

Pictures of homicide victims were hung on a Christmas tree.

Douglas Warner says each year he comes to the service and does other things around the holiday to celebrate his daughter, who was murdered in 2004.

"We have a special thing we do almost every holiday season for Eliza, she loved coming to Charleston, she loved coming to the beach, so we try to go to the beach, and there is a nice restaurant she liked to go to, we go there too, an just to honor her. Just that we love her and miss her everyday.”

Light refreshments were served after the vigil, were members could talk to one another.

The Survivors of Homicide Support Group is a collaborative program between Charleston County Sheriff's Office of Victim Assistance & Medical University of South Carolina Crime Victims Center.

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