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Family, Friends Gather to Remember Loved Ones Affected by Violent Crime

By Daniel Cherry | Published 06 Dec 2011 06:53pm | comments

The holiday season can be one of the hardest times for loved ones of those affected by violent crimes. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports how a program is helping family and friends cope with their loss.

For most people the holidays are a time to celebrate with friends and family, but those who have lost a loved one to a violent crime can feel like something is missing. In 2004 Taja McElroy was murdered by her boyfriend. Now Al McElroy is missing a daughter and his grandson D'Michael is missing his mother.

"Most of the time when I go through my home, I look at the family picture. The picture in a way in torn because his mother (Taja) is no longer there."

The McElroys were two of dozens who gathered in Jackson yesterday for the 8th annual tree lighting ceremony sponsored by the Attorney General's office. Loved ones could hang an ornament on the tree in remembrance of a victim. Suzanne McGee is a survivors advocate with the Gulf Coast Women's Center for Non-Violence. She says the holidays can bring old emotions back for those coping with a loss.

"You can go about all the decorating and the baking and lot of people do that, especially if there are young children around. But at the same time, there is a huge heaviness in your heart that you've lost someone that should be there, that should be a part of all that."

For those who are a victim of crime, there is help available. Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood says there is a fund, paid for by convicted criminals, designated to assist victims through their toughest times.

"Our Victim's Compensation Division really set a record this year for the amount of money that we have distributed to victims. We're fortunate that we're able to help victims with medical bills and all those type things that are a result of crime. "

Hood says there is more than 4 million dollars in the victim's compensation fund to help those who have been affected by crimes.

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