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Crime Victims Remembered During Candle Light Vigil

Andrew Rutnik and Bonny Corbeil of Crime Stoppers and Terri Lamb of the St. John Community Crisis Center hold candles to remember victims of crime.Sansara Cannon couldn’t contain her tears as she spoke Thursday at the Crime Victims Week observance in Cruz Bay Park. "I’m sad because my peers are dying," she said. Cannon, a recent college graduate who works for the Human Services Department’s Crime Victims Assistance Program, organized the event. About three-dozen people gathered around the park’s bandstand, but by the time Cannon spoke only a handful remained.
"More people should be here," she said.
Earlier Human Services Commissioner Christopher Finch pointed out that 90 percent of the territory’s youths who get in trouble are boys. He said they first come to the attention of authorities at age 14, get noticed by police a year later, and by 16, they’re in jail.
According to Finch, 200 to 300 children per year end up in the Youth Correctional Facility on St. Croix because they’re in trouble. He said that another 400 to 440 per year get services from social workers in hopes of keeping them out of the Correctional Facility.
And Finch noted that there’s a common thread among the boys in trouble with the law. "They have no involvement with their fathers. Most don’t know their [father’s] address and they don’t want to talk about them in counseling," he said.
Many of those young men witnessed domestic violence at home, Terri Lamb, program manager at the St. John Community Crisis Center, said.
"They’re in jail for murdering the man who abused their mother or their sister," Lamb said.
The Family Resource Center on St. Thomas has a program called Men Terminating Violence. "It works with batterers or potential batterers," director Vivian St. Juste said.
Dilsa Capedeville, who serves as director of the KIDSCOPE program to help abused children, has spent more than 40 years fighting in the struggle against domestic violence.
"I used to go to the morgue to see the children, but it was very painful. The problem continues, but we need to do more and do it with passion," she said.
St. John artist Livy Hitchcock has done portraits of most of the victims of the Columbine High School shooting in 1999 in Littleton, Colo.
"We can only heal if we reach out to each other and love each other," Hitchcock said.
Andy Rutnik, who works with the Crime Stoppers program on St. John, called crime a cancer that will slowly grow.
"If you’re not affected by it today, you will be tomorrow," he said.
The observance ended with a symbolic lighting of candles and a moment of silence to remember crime victims.

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