Pa. vigil remembers victims of violence

April 16, 1997


Staff Writer

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Emotions charged through Memorial Square in downtown Chambersburg Wednesday night as survivors of victims who were murdered, wounded or sexually abused told how the crimes have changed their own lives.

For the sixth consecutive year, WIN Victim Services held its Vigil Against Violence in tribute to the victims and survivors of violent crime on the steps of the Franklin County Courthouse.

Featured speaker Deborah Spungen talked about her slain daughter. Nancy Spungen was a heroin addict who was stabbed to death in a New York City hotel in October 1978 at the age of 20. Her boyfriend, Sid Vicious, of The Sex Pistols punk rock band, was charged with second-degree murder in her death. Vicious died of a heroin overdose in 1979 before his trial.


Spungen, author of "And I Don't Want to Live This life," and "Homicide: The Hidden Victim," said her daughter "was a troubled child, emotionally disturbed who self-medicated with heroin. Since she was a teenager I feared she would die of an overdose or suicide, but murder, it was a word I could not comprehend."

Spungen said people came to the vigil to remember a loved one killed by violence, to share a special fellowship of healing or to light a candle of remembrance of hope. "This is national victims rights week and we want our voices to be heard," she said.

Six luminaries in front of the podium represented the six people who were murdered in Franklin County in the last year.

"They were mothers, daughters, wives, a child," said Rebecca Dempsey, president of the WIN board of directors. "If we learn anything from their murders it's to listen to the alarm bell, that some abusers will make good their threat to kill."

Lisa Gardner, a family member of two recent murder victims, was overtaken several times by emotion as she told her story to the more than 100 people who attended the vigil. Gardner is the sister of Carla Reid, 36, and the aunt of Reid's stepdaughter, Diedra L. Moore, 14. Reid and Moore were shot to death at close range in December while both were asleep in Reid's home.

Reid's estranged husband, Albert E. Reid, 49, has been charged with two counts of criminal homicide in the case and is awaiting trial in Franklin County.

"No one wants an act of violence to happen to a loved one," Gardner said. "I miss Carla and D.D. in so many ways, a family dinner, watching a movie at home, just sharing everyday life," she said.

"Carla did her best to protect herself and her daughter," Gardner said. According to court records, Carla Reid had filed three protection from abuse orders against the defendant.

"I've often asked myself, `was there something I could have done to prevent it'?" Gardner said. "I'm angry at the person who is responsible for this violence. I will do all I can to see that justice is served and that the person who did this is punished."

The crowd also heard from a 13-year-old girl who related the horrors she and an older sister suffered at the hands of a relative who sexually abused them.

"It's not easy to talk about abuse, about someone you care about who hurts you," the teen said. "We know how it feels to be hurt."

Elouise Vason of Greencastle, Pa., told of her daughter, Ricarda, 33. She was shot in the face with a shotgun in 1993 and is still undergoing treatment. "She's had six operations to keep from being blind," Vason said. "Our family has suffered so much. The pain lives on with my child," she said.

"Our family worked hard all of our lives to be educated, but violence strikes people of all colors, all walks of life," Vason said. "I wasn't going to speak tonight, but this helps me to stay strong and to help people who have been hurt through no fault of their own."

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