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Annual remembrance brings crime victims' families 'a little bit of peace'

April 23, 2012|By JULIE E. GREENE | julieg@herald-mail.com
  • Hagerstown Police Detective Casey Yonkers, facing camera, gets a hug from David Maphis on Sunday at the 23rd annual Maryland Statewide Memorial Service for Crime Victims and Their Families at Hagerstown Seventh-day Adventist Church. The Maphis family thanked Yonkers and retired detective Steve Hoover for their investigation into the slaying of their daughter, Carol Brown.
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — Four-year-old Emma Maphis lie curled up on her sidein the front pew at Hagerstown Seventh-Day Adventist Church on Sunday afternoon when she reached her right hand over the back of the pew.

Hagerstown Police Detective Casey Yonkers, sitting behind Emma, reached out and held Emma’s hand, holding it off and on for several minutes through a memorial service for crime victims and their families.

Yonkers has gotten to know Emma and her family over the years, since Carol Brown was killed in 2008 in her Mitchell Avenue home.

Yonkers has seen Emma, Brown’s daughter, grow up.

As Brown’s mother, Marcella “Tina” Maphis, told about 140 people at the service, Yonkers, retired Detective Steve Hoover and Assistant State’s Attorney Gina Cirincion have become part of their family.

“It’s been an emotional roller-coaster ride for my entire family,” as well as the investigators and Cirincion, said Brown’s father, David Maphis, as he tried to keep his composure on the church stage.

David and Tina Maphis said they wanted the police and state’s attorney’s office to know that the family knows they did everything they could in Brown’s case.

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

Sunday’s service was the 23rd annual Maryland Statewide Memorial Service for Crime Victims and Their Families. The service at the church off Robinwood Drive was for victims and survivors from the Western Region.

Four people took turns reading the names of approximately 580 victims of homicide and traffic fatalities from Washington, Allegany, Garrett, Frederick, Carroll and Montgomery counties.

Three of the people who read names were family members of Washington County victims.

Brenda Cole read the name of her daughter, Heather Harris, who was murdered in 2011.

Jordan Appel read the name of her daughter, Bella, who was 5 weeks old when she was shaken to death in January 2010.

Also reading names was Julie Gehr, whose grandparents, Daniel and Wilda Davis, were stabbed to death in their Wilson Boulevard home on Valentine’s Day 1994.

It was the first crime victims memorial service the Maphis family attended, Tina Maphis said.

“It gives a little bit of peace,” she said after the service. “Being around other people that have been through an ordeal like we went through.”

The service included the Hagerstown Police Department Honor Guard, including a bagpiper, and the hanging of a banner that read “Their Light Still Shines” and featured victims’ names and messages from family members. After the service, the stars that featured names and messages were unpinned from the black netting so family members could have them.

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Editor's note: This story was edited April 23, 2012, to correct the spelling of Hagerstown Police Detective Casey Yonkers' name.

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