For Gloria Chapman, May 28 marked 10 years without her son and 10 years seeking justice in his killing in North Charleston.
Chapman was one of at least two dozen parents and other loved ones of homicide victims who gathered Wednesday night at Charleston County Sheriff's Office headquarters for the 13th annual National Day of Remembrance For Murder Victims. She and others shared stories of their slain children, called for action on cold cases and gun violence, and, most of all, called for the community to come together.
All are members of the Survivors of Homicide Support Group, which is run out of Medical University Hospital's National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center in conjunction with the Sheriff's Office.
Corey Chapman was 30 when he was gunned down less than a mile from his mother's home, where he lived at the time of his death. His case has not been solved.
"It hasn't been easy," his mother said. "I think about him during his birthday. We try and release balloons and remember him. I go to the grave site. It's been very, very hard."
Chapman attended the support group meetings but eventually stopped. Nevertheless, she values their work and sees the good they do for grieving parents like herself.
"I would tell any mother or father to just hold on and trust God because God will never leave you," she said, her voice cracking and tears welling up in her eyes. "He's always there, no matter what. God will always be there with us. Just talk about your loved ones. Don't keep it covered up."
Those sentiments were echoed again and again Wednesday night.
Doug Warner spoke about his daughter, Liza, who was 29 when she was shot and killed by her husband Oct. 1, 2004.
Doug and his wife, Shirley, who is Liza's stepmother, went on to found the nonprofit Liza's Lifeline, which helps victims of domestic violence.
For them, the support group has been an invaluable resource.
"We wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for this group," Doug said. "I don't know where we'd be."
Shirley said in the days and weeks after Liza's death, she and Doug didn't have a solid support group of friends and family in the Charleston area, but they found the support group.
"To be in a room with other people who know how you feel, it means everything at that point," she said. "We rarely go to meetings now but in the beginning we went all the time, for years. We still go to their events."
Doug Warner said he was struck on Wednesday by hearing survivors' frustration and anger at issues like domestic violence, stolen guns and gun violence.
"People are upset about the murders, not just domestic violence murders, but murders (in general)," he said. "That's the first time I've heard the frustration that people are experiencing."
For Vanessa Halyard, whose son William was killed Sept. 16, 1998, in Orangeburg, the love and compassion she's felt over the years from the support group inspired her to get involved in victim advocacy work.
William Halyard was a student at S.C. State University and was set to be commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army upon graduation in December 1998, but he was gunned down by a person who was upset at not being allowed into a college party, his mother said.
"That turned my world upside down," she said. "Even though it's been 20 years, it feels like it was yesterday."
Shortly after William's death, Vanessa said she read about the support group in a newspaper.
"Something told me to go," she said. "I went and that was the very first meeting 20 years ago. The Survivors of Homicide Support Group, I felt, helped me with my healing even though I will never be healed completely. The (group) is near and dear to my heart because I was in a very dark place at that time."
For more information on the support group, visit muschealth.org, call Alyssa Rheingold at 843-792-8209 or Easther LaRoche at 843-745-2250.