Vigil for victims of unsolved crimes held in Benton Harbor
BERRIEN COUNTY, Mich. - For the first time ever, one group in Benton Harbor held a vigil Thursday night to draw attention to victims of unsolved crimes.
Relatives of the victims and community advocates met at the corner of Elm and State Street in St. Joseph, Michigan at 9 p.m., which is near where a teenager died two decades ago.
They retraced the steps of 16-year-old Eric McGinnis, whose body was pulled out of the St. Joseph River in 1991.
Officials still don't know exactly how he died, but his case doesn't sit alone on Benton Harbor's cold case shelf.
In total, the organizer read 56 names of missing persons who have never been found and murder victims whose families have yet to receive justice.
“We wanted to make sure their names were lifted up. We wanted to make sure that they were not forgotten like often times happens in our community," said the local pastor who organized the event, Lisa Gorman.
“it just opens old wounds to me, and I am very shocked that they are even doing something like this," said Susan McGee Roseman, who grew up in Benton Harbor.
Her father, Willie McGee, was shot at his workplace in the 70's.
The jury acquitted his alleged killer.
“We were totally devastated that he was proven not guilty," she said.
Susan is looking for action beyond lighting candles, though.
"It would just be honoring his name...but other than that, what actions would they be taking for other cold cases?” she asked.
Other family members feel just coming together gives them a sense of peace.
“It might wake up the character that has been divided by such tragedies, so you get all those people together. Maybe you’ll get a fusion of such energy to have some closure or either just bring the village back to being a village. We’ve all got some type of connection,” said Jerry Edwards, whose cousin was murdered years ago.
The hope is that bringing these names to the forefront again will stir up memories that could help crack these cold cases.