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Baldwin County remembers victims of crime

In 2017 Baldwin County investigated 11 homicides. Thursday night victims and their families were honored as part of N...

Posted: Apr 13, 2018 1:51 PM
Updated: Apr 13, 2018 1:51 PM

In 2017 Baldwin County investigated 11 homicides. Thursday night victims and their families were honored as part of National Crime Victims' Rights Week.

They met at Delta Five Rivers on the Causeway as the sun was setting.

While it was a night to remember their loved ones and celebrate their lives.

"So many times a victim of crime feels like they've been forgotten. They feel like nobody else has been through what I've been through. This is a way to show them they haven't been forgotten and that other people have been through the same thing... And they are bonded together, find a little extra strength and comfort through knowing other people through what they have been through," said Baldwin County District Attorney Bob Wilters.

Tracey Goens understands. Her father, Bobby Wilson, was murdered at his convenience store in Spanish Fort in 2007. She formed a victims support group VOCAL Gulf Coast in 2012.

This is the 7th year VOCAL (Victims Of Crime And Leniency) has hosted the event.

"It helps me be able to help other people going through the worst thing you can even imagine," said Goens.

Goens says VOCAL helps victims navigate the criminal justice system. They offer help to families with gas cards to get to court appearances, and even attend with them for emotional support. Goens encourages other victims to talk about their loved ones.

"There's a lot of emotions. I think victims want to remember their loved ones even though they are gone. It's still my dad. I want to talk about him. It makes some people feel uncomfortable. Why should he be forgotten because he was taken away by a horrible crime," said Goens.

Alabama State Attorney General Steve Marshall attended the event.

"You think about how it is we try to serve those who have lost so much... One of which is law enforcement and those are my heroes. Those victims here... I hope we recognize those men and women come to work every day not knowing if they are going to come home," said Marshall.

Cindy Warren knows all too well. Her son - Tampa Police Officer David Curtis was killed in the line of duty in 2010.

"My son making a single traffic stop -- him and his partner were gunned down in three seconds just for simply pulling somebody over for a bad tag," said Warren.

Warren says Mobile Police Officer Justin Billa's death was heartbreaking, but found the overwhelming community support moving.

"And that touched my heart. It brought tears to my eyes. I remember my son's wife and the four boys he left and I looked at her little boy and my heart just broke... And I know what she's going to go through... And I know what his mom is going through," said Warren.

While crime brought them together, it's also making these families stronger as they realize they are not alone.

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