Murder victims' loved ones grieve together

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - It was a day of remembrance and tears as murder victims and their surviving family members were honored during a ceremony. The vigil took place in North Charleston as part of the "National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims."

"We go to Chucky Cheese, my aunt tried to drive and me and my daddy jumped out of the car," four-year-old Jamir Johnson said.

It was just one of a few memories the four-year-old could recall. His father Kevin Johnson was gunned down two years ago.

Authorities say they found 29-year-old Johnson shot to death at the corner of Simmons and King Street in Charleston.

Fouche Sheppard says she raised her nephew Kevin Johnson as her own son, and now she helps care for Jamir.

"It has been sort of a healing process for me in that manner too. Because in addition to him looking so much like his father, he has so many innate ways of his father," Sheppard said.

While it has been hard to deal with the loss, she's found comfort being part of the "Survivors of Homicide Support Group."

"There is no substitute for having other people who can experience what you're experiencing, who have the patience and tolerance to allow you to be able to grieve, and also grieve with you," Sheppard said.

The group offers therapy, counseling, and information on the criminal justice system for survivors. Religious leaders and medical experts get involved to help the family members through.

"Support has been found to be very important in the grieving process. It's a great buffer to have positive support and to have folks they feel like understand," MUSC Psychologist Dr. Alyssa Rheingold said.

Sheppard says a suspect in her nephew's killing is in jail, but as she awaits the case to go to trial, she says she'll continue to seek help from the support group.

"I don't know what I would have been able to do without the victim's advocate program," Sheppard said.

The "Survivors of Homicide Support Group" is a program by the Charleston County Sheriff's Office and MUSC's Crime Victims Center. It was the fifth annual "National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims" event.

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