Local mother shares how annual homicide victim service still helps her grieve 5 years later

Local News

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — An annual memorial service still helps members deal with their loss, when when it’s moved online. One woman who lost her son to gun violence five years ago has been going to the service ever since. She shared how the group helps her cope.

“The club we’re in, nobody would want to be in this club. This is the hardest club to be in,” said Rosie Blake Thomas.

Rosie Blake Thomas’s son, Valentia Jovan Fresco, was 34-years-old when he was shot to death.

“He was my heart. He was my firstborn,” his mother describes. “He had this laugh, you see my smile, he had my smile, but most of all guess what he had, he had my heart.”

Five years later, she says the family continues to feel that heartache.

“You touch a lot of lives when you kill somebody,” Thomas said. “When you kill one, you kill the whole family…the whole family dies. You just have to learn how to grow, water it and start living again.”

Thomas was one of many that virtually attended the 16th Annual Homicide Victim Memorial Service hosted by Winnebago County State’s Attorney Marilyn Hite-Ross.

“You’re life changes. All those people coming on zoom tonight, their lives changed forever,” Thomas said. “Nobody in their right mind would want to be in this group, this is the hardest group to be in.”

Rockford Police Chief Dan O’Shea signed on to share his condolences.

“I could still be at a loss for words because I could never put myself in anyone’s shoes who has fallen victim and loss a family member to a tragic horrible crime,” the police chief said.

The group continues to help Thomas cope with losing her son.

“The group is wonderful, you know what first we come in there broken, but then we come in there and we’re family,” she added. “We cry, we laugh, but we’re family.”

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