Tears flowed freely Wednesday on the north steps of the state Capitol, as families and friends huddled together to commemorate the National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims.
More than 150 people attended the two-hour event, where speakers paused to remember loved ones and discuss the trials of coping with such tragedies.
“It doesn’t go away just because that murderer gets sentenced and sent off to prison,” Sacramento County District Attorney Jan Scully told the crowd.
The images of 1,000 murder victims – some cases more than two decades old – were plastered on posters that lined the surrounding grass. Many survivors donned clothing with the picture and name of their loved ones.
For Pamela Smith, the 2006 slaying of her daughter Lucinda Pina in Stockton has turned into “an ongoing nightmare.”
“I wake up, and that’s the first thing that comes to mind,” said Smith, 56.
The case is going back to trial for a second time, after the alleged killer won an appeal, she said.
“I’m so distraught. I have four beautiful grandchildren who are motherless.”
Smith embraced granddaughter Malaina Pina, 14, as the national anthem was played at the start of the ceremony.
Malaina, 7 years old when her mother was killed, said she struggles with the loss every day.
“It’s hard moving on,” she said.
The event was sponsored by the Sacramento chapter of the Parents of Murdered Children.
Organizers released 50 butterflies during the memorial. As the sun set, speakers read a list of names during a candlelight vigil.
Nearly 2,000 Californians were murdered in 2012, according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting program.
Victims advocates noted that many missing person cases go unsolved, leaving families with little hope of closure.
Misty Foster, chapter leader for Parents of Murdered Children, likened murder to a “life sentence” for survivors.
“It doesn’t end at the gravesite,” she said.