More than 200 people gathered in a banquet hall at Swiss Park just north of Imperial Beach Thursday evening to remember loved ones killed by homicide.
The vigil was held to especially remember the lives of Jonathan Sellers and Charlie Keever, who were abducted and murdered 19 years ago when they were out riding their bikes.
According to U-T San Diego, after the two boys bodies were found, it took another 11 years before a conviction was secured. For the murders, Scott Erskine has been on death row at San Quentin since 2004.
Their mothers Milena Sellers-Phillip and Maria Keever established a foundation in their names to support public safety and the families of victims who voted Thursday's vigil.
A memorial park and education center is scheduled to be built near 13th Street in IB just off the Bayshore Bikeway.
The Keevers & Sellers Educational Activity Center will include a concrete trail Nautilus shell 30 foot in diameter, climbing rocks and wildlife viewing telescopes.
Work to build the park will begin in August and should conclude in October, said Greg Cox, who voted along with other county supervisors to fund the new park last month.
"If there ever was a case that was the holy grail that required you to bring the best you could bring to the table, this was the case," said Patrick Russell who investigated the case. "This case struck horror, this act of terrorism struck all of us."
It took forever to get started and just as long to get a conviction, he said.
"And where justice ended, humanity began with these two mothers. At the end of the day, darkness did not win."
Elizabeth Brown was at Thursday's ceremony.
She was Milena Sellers-Phillip's neighbor. She remembers Jonathan, and seeing Maria walk the neighborhood passing out flyers and putting them up at the post office. Three years later, her son Richard Beady Jr. was murdered in 1996.
"It was nice being here," she said. "But it brings back memories. You feel it like it was yesterday. You never forget."
"My advice is to forgive. Otherwise it will chew you up. It takes a while to really do it and mean it. Then you can go on with life."
The vigil was concluded with a candlelight vigil, moment of silence and reading the names of victims whose loved ones attended which included:
- Tori Vienneau and Dean Springstube
- Paul Alferos, Jr.
- Miguel Leon-Fregoso
- Salvador Hernandez
- Joanna Vargas
- Richie Carrillo
- Amber Dubois
- Chelsea King
- Richard D. Beaty
- Jonathan Gonzalez
- Sandea Salgado
- Jordan Mickey
- Lean Natalie Tadayo
- Byron Phmoye
- Devin Eugene Blackowl
- Marque Johnson
- Salvador Mercado
San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, San Diego Police Department Chief William Lansdowne and State Senator Juan Vargas also attended.