An emotional gathering joined crime survivors with mothers of victims Monday.
Survivors who lost family members through violence gathered for a vigil at the San Diego Police Association Hall in Kearny Mesa.
“There’s still days when it will knock the wind out of me and I’ll be on my knees sobbing,” said Dayna Herroz. “Because I cannot believe they’re not here.”
Herroz lost her daughter, Tori Vienneau, and grandson, Dean Springstube, when the baby’s father strangled both five years ago. A roommate found the mother and son in a Southcrest apartment. The 10-month-old boy was found hanging by a noose from his crib.
Vienneau had planned to force the boy’s father, Dennis Potts, to take a court-ordered paternity test and pay child support. Potts was later convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison.
Herroz was one of several mothers who told NBCSanDiego the wounds have not fully healed even years after their loss.
Rita Moore and her husband Dick lost their son Andy Tan Tai Moore in September 2000. The City College student was found dead in his apartment on 8th Avenue. His 1994 Suzuki Kantana motorcycle was recovered a month later in the 1100 block of 24th Street.
“Somehow, life goes on,” said Rita Moore. “Despite the unspeakable loss we have all faced.”
Moore’s killing has not been solved and a $56,000 reward is offered for information leading to an arrest.
Elsie Lott, mother of Tamara Henderson, was also at the event. Tamara was shot to death by her husband, Dontaye Henderson, in front of her children as the family prepared to go to church on New Year’s Day.
“I feel like a piece of me is missing and I always will,” she said.
Dontaye Henderson was convicted of murder and sentenced to 80 years behind bars.
The focus of the event was to promote awareness of victims’ rights as part of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week which began Sunday.
Participants wanted to honor not only victims of violent crimes but also survivors.
Lott said that during the ceremony she focused on remembering her daughter, not thinking of the act which took her life.
“If I dwelled on how she left here, it wouldn't be good for any of us. I have to think about the positive. What a great person she was,“ Lott said.
For more information on National Crime Victims' Rights Week, and ideas on how to serve victims in your community check websites for The Office for Victims of Crime, Crimevictims.gov or San Diego Victim Assistance Coordinating Council.