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Three years after Erik Miranda was shot and killed early on a Sunday morning, the crime remains unsolved, denying his family what they want most: closure.

Family members held a lantern vigil Thursday, Sept. 20 — the anniversary of the 24-year-old's death — at Kiwanis Lake.

York City Police officers responding to reports of shots fired just before 6 a.m. on Sept. 20, 2015, found Miranda's body in an alleyway in the 200 block of Jefferson Avenue, where he lived with his mother. 

Family members described him as a kind, caring man who was a devoted Jehovah's Witness. They said he had no enemies, which makes the homicide even more difficult for them to understand.

On Thursday, the family prayed together and released a handful of biodegradable lanterns into the sky above the lake to show they won't forget Miranda — or the unknown killer who remains free.

Olga Davis, Miranda's cousin, said his mother, Maria Miranda, moved to Florida shortly after his death because she "couldn't stand it to live here anymore" after the pain of losing her son.

She hasn't returned since, and she wasn't present at the vigil Thursday night.

"I'm a mother, and if something happened to one of my babies like that, I don't know how I'd push on," Davis said. "It's a kick in the stomach; I can't breathe. I can't rest at night knowing his killers are still out there, breathing and walking around, not paying for the injustice that's been done to us."

Jack Padro, Miranda's brother, said he wishes he could thank him for all that he did for him. He said he still struggles to suppress anger and negative frustration.

"I was always with him," Padro said. "He was a good person and helped me through the hard times. But now I can't even say thank you to him anymore."

The family still lives around the corner from where the shooting happened. Every year, they meet at the scene to celebrate Miranda's life.

Davis praised York City Police for making arrests in recent shootings, but she notes the status of her cousin's case.

"The police have been doing a great job tracking the current shooters doing all these terrible things in York, but Erik's case is still cold," she said.

Davis also praised local community organizations for their efforts to stop gun violence but added the community is doing less to help grieving families such as hers.

More: Activism stronger than ever amid racial, socioeconomic tension in York City

She called the shootings "a plague." 

"I don't know what can be done to stop it, and I don't know how they're going to stop it," Davis said. "York is just tired. We're sick of shootings; we're afraid to walk to the store."

More: York City receives $150,000 to bolster anti-gun violence initiatives

Although knowing who the killer is won't take all of the pain away, Davis said, it is the closest thing to closure the family can hope for.

York City Police Chief Troy Bankert explained in an email the process of handling unsolved homicide cases.

"Homicides do not have statute of limitations, therefore they remain open," the chief said. "When a homicide is unsolved, we review the case as needed. However, typically, new evidence is presented which is then immediately followed up on. We do the initial investigation until all evidence is reviewed and all witnesses are questioned."

Anyone with information is asked to call police at 717-846-1234 or text "yorktips" and then the message to 847-411. Tipsters can remain anonymous. 

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