Annual homicide memorial service helps victim families heal


A Stateline church holds a memorial service to remember those lost to violence. It brings together strangers who can unite through their experiences of tragedy.

One by one, victims’ family members lit a candle in their memory. Dozens filled Riverside Community Church for the Carol McFeggan Homicide Victim Memorial, an event dedicated to those whose life were taken from them.

“People need this, people want this,” said Winnebago County State’s Attorney’s Office Victim Advocate Jody Miller. “They don’t want people to forget that their loved ones were taken from them.”

Vikki Nalevac’s daughter Katrina Smith was killed by her husband, she says although it’s been seven years — her loss still feels fresh.

“I have a picture up there of my daughter, my youngest daughter and then Katrina,” said Nalevac. “My youngest daughter is pregnant right now and misses her sissy terribly.”

Porschay Marks honored her two sisters, Briana Stamper and Chiraya Nelson, both who were shot and killed. She attended for the first time with her sister’s little ones.

“Going up there with those kids, seeing their pictures. It hurts,” said Marks. “It hurts bad.”

Miller says Monday’s group is a club no one wants to belong to.

“If we can alleviate anything for them, we try to help out in anyway we can,” said Miller.

On a screen, the name of every homicide victim in the county since the memorial started was played. Nalevac says although the memorial is hard to sit through, it’s worth coming.

“Because it helps a lot. It helps a lot, it really does. It helps you get through it, it really does.”

Marks agrees, she says it was comforting to be around those her family can relate to.

“It’s a lot better with people who have been though what you’re going through,” said Marks. “It’s a whole lot better because then you can understand.”

Monday’s event marks the 15th annual memorial service held. Each family took home a pot with forget-me-not seeds to plant in memory of their loved ones.

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