Group holds memorial walk to remember victims of violent crime

SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- For Shirley Sanders-Avril, the pain of losing her daughter, Leah Avril, is still raw.

"She was just so sweet, she couldn't tell anybody no," Sanders-Avril said.

Leah's boyfriend, Jacob Stanton, murdered her in 2009. She was just 18 years old.

"He's in jail, he got 25 years - but it doesn't take away the pain," said Sanders-Avril.

To help ease the pain, a group of people walked over two miles on Saturday, supporting those who have lost someone to violent crime and drawing attention to the impact the crime has on the lives of survivors.

"When somebody murders somebody, it's not just one life that is taken, but it's the life of everybody that's connected to that person. Your life is never the same," said JoAnn Finchum, Leah's aunt.

Judy Finchum used the walk to remember her five-year-old grandson, Kyle. His mom and her boyfriend are in prison for involuntary manslaughter and other charges, after their dog attacked him.

"A wolf hybrid had went to his bed while he was sleeping and mauled and killed him. The mother was at home, the boyfriend was at home - they didn't hear a thing. No one was there to hear his screams," said Finchum.

By sharing stories, pictures and memories, members of the group helped comfort each other. Organizers are hopeful it's a tradition that will continue for many years to come.


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