HAMILTON, Ohio (FOX19) - Grieving families united at a candlelight vigil in Hamilton on Tuesday to honor people they have lost, including murder victims, missing people and fallen heroes.
For more than 30 years, Victims United, a Butler County non-profit, has hosted the vigil as a way for anyone who is grieving the loss of a loved one to relieve part of their pain.
The families who attended have different stories of loss, yet their reason for coming is almost always the same. They say they are working on healing their heartache by paying tribute to their late loved ones.
“Our greatest loss was to lose them, but the next greatest loss would be if we forget," Madge Burton, the president of Victims United, said.
Burton founded the organization decades ago after her family was hit with a devastating blow. Three of her family members, Teresa Jones, Aubrey Jones, and Elizabeth Burton, were murdered.
Burton said the vigil is always open to anyone who is mourning someone, whether it be a murder victim, a missing person, or a fallen hero.
Rebecca Sandle attends the vigil annually to honor her late son CJ, who police say was killed in his Hamilton home in 2016. The case is unsolved.
“Any chance I can get to put my son’s name out there, I’ll always do. I’ll keep fighting for him for the rest of my life," Sandle said.
While the main focus of Tuesday’s event was on softening the suffering, for some, it was also about answers.
Hope Dudley’s “U Can Speak For Me” organization pushes for justice in unsolved cases. Dudley was at the vigil to spread the word.
“We don’t want the community to forget about our loved ones’ cases," Dudley said. "Anytime we can come together and bring awareness, hey, our sons', our daughters’ cases are still unsolved, is helpful to us.”
On top of Tuesday’s vigil, Burton said that she and others with Victims United travel to prisons and to speaking events around the country.