On Nov. 12, an intimate group of community members gathered at Alexander Park in Brusly to remember lost ones of violent crimes and unsolved crimes in West Baton Rouge. LED candles brightened faces hung heavy with loss. The event was solemn and peaceful. 

Emotions ran the gamut as stories were shared about the experience of loss lacking closure. Despite many challenges recognized from the group, they remain hopeful for justice.

Organizer Kathryn Simpson hosted the gathering, making a board honoring victims of violent crimes in West Baton Rouge. Simpson also made charms for families who attended. Small jars on chains held symbolic items: sand, glass, angel wings, a cross, rose quartz and amethyst to honor the departed.

Grief support groups are common yet, particular type of loss was expressed as very different from other types of loss. The overall consensus was comfort and thankfulness to have support. One attendee who wished to remain anonymous said of other group members, “They can relate—really relate.” 

Simpson, who drove from Shreveport to host the vigil, spoke of the connection in particular to the nature of the losses, “Other people just can’t understand the shock and confusion. It’s a unique situation.” Simpson’s mother, Kimberly Womack died in 2008.

This uniqueness left some families feeling alone in their unsolved cases. Tara Snearl, mother of Fatrell Queen who was killed at 28 years old said, “It’s comforting to be with this group here. For years I thought I was out here by myself.” Snearl added, “The justice system here has failed us.”

Another attendee, Nancy Racca stated, “Last night was awesome,” in reference to the vigil on Friday. Racca operates a fundraising effort to raise awareness for sexual assault and is currently offering teal bows per $15 donation. She can be reached via email at raccanancy@yahoo.com


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