It’s hard to imagine living with the pain of knowing that somebody you loved died a violent death at the hands of a killer.
“You never forget, especially at holidays,” said Dutch Buckheister of Mount Pleasant, whose daughter, Kathy Buckheister Sanderlin, was stabbed to death the day after Thanksgiving in 1975.
He and his wife, Ella Rue Buckheister, were among those who came out to remember lost loved ones on the sixth annual National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims.
About 80 people attended the emotional service in Charleston County Council Chambers. They mourned sons, daughters, cousins, nephews and friends with tears, hugs, candles and photographs of the departed. One woman was there for a cousin, Richard Davis Jr. of Holly Hill, who had been shot to death just the night before in Orangeburg County.
Their common denominator is that they’ve learned to share their pain with others who have walked the same valley of darkness.
The service was organized by the local Survivors of Homicide Support Group, a joint effort of the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office of Victim Assistance and the Medical University of South Carolina’s Crime Victims Center.
Lucille Caddin said the support group helped her survive the loss of her youngest daughter, Willa Mae Bennett of Red Top, who was raped, choked and run over with a car Nov. 10, 2000.
“It hurt me so bad,” Caddin said. “I almost went crazy.”
Almost 12 years after the funeral, she carries her daughter’s driver’s license in her wallet.
When it comes to supporting the survivors, it doesn’t matter if the victims were innocents who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time or young men who were getting into trouble before they were killed.
“The circumstance of the case is not important,” said Easter LaRoche, a victims’ advocate with the Sheriff’s Office.
Sheriff Al Cannon was there to agree with that statement.
“There are some universal truths,” Cannon said. “We all know what love is. We all know what pain is. We all know what suffering is.”
Charleston Mayor Joe Riley and S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley sent proclamations supporting the event.