More than 450 homicide victims remembered at annual memorial service

Lindsey O'Laughlin
York Dispatch

For Scott Wasilewski, the passage of time hasn't eased the pain of his son's murder more than seven years ago.

"I wouldn't wish this on anyone," he said.

Wasilewski said his son, Anthony Wasilewski, was shot and killed in York City on July 20, 2011, when he was 19 years old. 

At 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 2, at Unitarian Universalist Congregation of York, Wasilewski joined about 25 other people for an annual memorial service honoring victims of homicide, presented by the YWCA York Victim Assistance Center.

Wasilewski, of Luzerne County, said the loss of his son is especially difficult around the holidays, and that Anthony Wasilewski's birthday was Dec. 29.  He attended Sunday's service with his friend, Carol Linker, of Lancaster, and his mother, Elaine Salamon, of Luzerne County.

Salamon said her grandson was very handsome, and Wasilewski and Linker said Anthony Wasilewski was "a great kid."

Grief: In her opening remarks, the Rev. Gabriele Parks of UUCY said everyone in the sanctuary was united by a terrible grief that no one else can understand.

"You might also have experienced a very complicated grief, because homicide is still one of the deaths that people have a hard time talking about," Parks said.

A memorial occupies the area Thursday, Oct. 25, 2018, where Ruban Dejesus, 17, was fatally shot in the 600 block of Linden Ave. Sunday, Oct. 21. Candles were arranged in a heart shape and an "R". Police are searching for 20-year-old Marquis "Marky" Treavon Butts, wanted in connection with the homicide. Bill Kalina photo

Parks said many people who have lost a loved one to homicide feel isolated. Friends, family members and neighbors don't know the right words to comfort someone in that situation, and as a result, those friends and neighbors often stay away.

Parks said life will never go back to the way it was before the homicide, and that those who are left behind must forge ahead and create a new normal for themselves. She also said small steps help make this possible.

"One of your goals always has to be to do the grief work," she said.

Parks added that grief cannot be avoided, and although the grief does consume you for a time, taking small steps to work through all of the emotions and feelings can help a loved one to cope with the new normal. 

Names read: The names of more than 450 local homicide victims were then read aloud in the sanctuary. Included in that list were 15-year-old Dezmen "Dez" Jones and 28-year-old Jameel Murray, who were shot and killed in York City on Sept. 26.

Attendants were then invited to come to the front of the sanctuary and light a candle in memory of their loved one.

The service concluded with the hymn "Amazing Grace."