For families of crime victims, annual service is a time to reflect

Hagerstown church to host regional event Sunday as part of statewide memorial observance

April 16, 2012|By DON AINES |

Vernon and Vivian Davis have regularly attended the annual Maryland Statewide Memorial Service for Crime Victims and Their Families since his parents were murdered 18 years ago in their Hagerstown home.

For Brenda Cole, Sunday’s event will be her first since her daughter, Heather Harris, was murdered in 2011.

The 23rd annual memorial service will be at 2 p.m. at the Seventh-Day Adventist Church at 11507 Robinwood Drive. The service is for victims and survivors from the Western Region, which includes Montgomery, Frederick, Carroll, Washington, Allegany and Garrett counties, said Jill Ritter, director of the Washington County State’s Attorney’s Office’s Witness/Victim Unit.

Services also will be held that day in the Northern, Southern and Eastern regions of the state, Ritter said.

“It’s a time we can all reflect on what we’re here for ... and remember that victims can never be forgotten,” Washington County State’s Attorney Charles Strong said.

“It’s been 18 years since this happened to Mom and Dad, and it’s important that people remember and care,” Vernon Davis said.

Daniel, 84, and Wilda Davis, 80, were stabbed to death in their Wilson Boulevard home on Valentine’s Day 1994, Vernon Davis said.

“I know everyone has to die sometime. They didn’t have to die like that,” Davis said.

Russell Wayne Wagner was convicted of the murders and was sentenced to life in prison, court records show. He died in prison of a heroin overdose in 2005.

Cole said she wants to take part in the memorial service “just to keep the memory of my daughter alive.”

“There’s just no excuse for what people do to one another,” Cole said.

Her 37-year-old daughter died after being shot in her Dual Highway home on June 10, 2011. Randy Houston McPeak of Berkeley Springs, W.Va., was arrested after a standoff with police that night and later pleaded guilty to first-degree murder.

McPeak was sentenced to life in prison.

Another participant in the service will be Emma Maphis, the daughter of 22-year-old Carol Brown, who was killed in 2008 in her Mitchell Avenue home in Hagerstown. Ritter said Emma will place a wreath at the service.

A Hagerstown man, Darrol Sands, was indicted and tried in Brown’s death, but he was acquitted by a jury.

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