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Program remembers lives lost to violence in Berks County

By Kimberly Davidow, Reporter
Published On: Sep 25 2012 05:03:21 PM CDT
Updated On: Sep 25 2012 08:49:49 PM CDT

Remembering loved ones lost to violence

READING, Pa. -

Across the country and in Berks County, people are remembering loved ones whose lives were cut short because of violence.

There was not a dry eye inside the GoggleWorks in Reading on Tuesday. People were brought together through the Years of Tears organization, whose purpose is helping family members and friends of those grieving after losing a loved one to violence.

"I guess until you walk in the shoes that we're in now, no one understands. We just have to keep bonding together," said Brenda Cullen, president of Years of Tears.

One by one, family members and friends spoke about the loved ones they have lost.

"He killed Dalton, and he killed my niece," said Judy, whose niece and nephew, Berks County native Amy Lorah and her son, William "Dalton" Haley, were killed in their home in Florida on April 12, 2012.

"I see the violent end of her life every second of every day and I want to get passed that," said Patty, mother of Danielle Mehlman.

Mehlman, 26, was a Reading High School graduate who was murdered on June 6, 2012 at a motel in Dewey Beach, Del.

"The person who killed her only knew her for a few weeks and stabbed her over 30 times," said Patty.

"The people that killed my son didn't know him. Never seen him before, but just decided they wanted to shoot somebody, said Donnie Edwards, whose son, Donnie Edwards III, was killed on July 1, 2012 in Reading.

Reading Mayor Vaughn Spencer took to the podium as well, but not as a politician. Spencer spoke as a father grieving over the loss of his daughter, who was killed in a hit-and-run accident in Reading more than 20 years ago.

"I started drinking. I started doing all the things that people say you shouldn't do under that scenario," said Spencer.

Through such pain, people found solace with pictures of their loved ones and a remembrance quilt.

"In the past year, 27 victims lost their lives. Each year, Years of Tears holds a candlelight vigil at Mineral Spring Park.

"The violence just has to stop," said Patty.