Families of homicide victims recognized at memorial

Published: May. 31, 2023 at 10:39 PM CDT
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MACHESNEY PARK, Ill. (WIFR) - An emotional evening for dozens of families Wednesday evening as they join in Machesney Park to remember their loved onee lost to the hands of violence.

Regardless of whether these families have been coming to honor their loved ones at this event for the first time or the nineteenth time, the message remains the same: you’re not alone.

Attending the 19th Annual Carol McFeggen homicide victim memorial every year never gets easier for Joy Cardino Morgan.

“It comes in waves. There are days where it hits,” says Morgan. “It’s kind of a reminder of what happened.”

Joy’s elderly parents were murdered inside their Rockford home during a robbery attempt turned violent in the summer of 2009. It made Joy part of a club no one wants to join.

“They’re going through the same thing as what we’re going through.”

Joy joins dozens of others at Riverside Church in Machesney Park who unfortunately know her situation all too well.

“We understand time will heal. I don’t think it will ever heal but it helps everyday helps.”

Mary and Robert Sargent grieve the loss of their niece Treesa Wiley, who was caught in the crosshairs of gun violence in Rockford more than seven years ago. Wednesday night they light a candle in Treesa’s memory.

“It’s a process that we’re going through and this part of the process,” says Mary.

Data from the city of Rockford shows 15 people were victims of homicide last year. That’s down 38% from 2021 but for people like Joy and the Sargents, it’s not enough to change what happened.

“I don’t think there’s ever going to be any closure, but at the same time, it’s really nice to comfort each other, help each other.”

They rely on these events to do what their loved ones want most for them: to heal.

“They’re not just a number, and they’re not just a victim. They’re people. Their name lives on and they’re remembered,” says Morgan.

The Rockford homicide survivors support group and the Winnebago County State’s Attorney’s Office organize this memorial every year for families.

If you or someone you love has been touched by homicide, the Winnebago County State’s Attorney’s Office offers a victim’s support group that meets monthly.