Rhona Lawrence thought the world had stopped when her 20-year-old son was fatally shot five times in the back while walking in Freeport.
“I wanted to die, I wanted to be where he was,” she said of her son, Brendan Lawrence. “There’s no closure. Nothing can bring back my child.”
The April 2009 case remains unsolved, she said.
Lawrence, 59, of Westbury, was among more than 120 people who attended the observance of the 35th anniversary of the Long Island/New York Metro Area chapter of Parents and Other Survivors of Murdered Victims, Outreach Inc. The group held its candlelight vigil program at Miller Place Inn in Miller Place Sunday.
Nicholas Weiss continues to deal with the killing of his sister 26 years ago. Weiss said Theresa Cruse, 30, was walking home with their brother after having just been in an argument with the assailant in a Merrick bar.
Weiss, 55, of Massapequa, said the killer went home, grabbed his gun and found Weiss’ siblings walking. When the man’s shotgun didn’t discharge, the assailant fatally struck his sister over her head with the murder weapon.
“She had three children, there’s never any closure,” Weiss said, adding, the man who killed his sister spent 19 years in prison before being released.
Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas congratulated the group for more than three decades of service, but also called the landmark “bittersweet because entry into the organization is filled with so much pain and devastation. It’s such a difficult journey.”
She added: “I’m so glad you all have support because I don’t think there is anyone other than someone who has gone through what you have that can really understand and empathize and give you support.”
The names of more than 630 murder victims, whose families have been part of the organization, were read at the vigil.
“We’ve lost a lot of people,” said Valerie McFadden, a self-described advocate against violence who has compiled a list of 106 unsolved killings across Long Island.
She often reaches out to the families of murder victims, offering emotional support in their time of need.
“To the living we owe respect, to the dead we owe the truth,” Suffolk County homicide detective Kevin Beyrer said, citing a famous quote by Francois Maria Arouet De Voltaire.