State leaders remember lives lost to violent crime

Posted at 11:14 PM, Apr 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-13 23:14:21-04

LANSING, Mich--According to state leaders, 957 people died in Michigan last year from violent crimes alone.

Wednesday night, state leaders gathered at the Capitol, remembering who we've lost alongside victims' families.

It's all part of National Crime Victims' Rights Week.

The Crime Victim Foundation held their 28th annual vigil, honoring victims of crime throughout our state.

The event's keynote speakers, Tracy Hightower and Sheila White, told the audience Wednesday that they're "living in an emotional prison of shock."

Bagpipes sounded as 957 faces and names were remembered Wednesday night.

"This is an opportunity for victims' families to get together to remember lost loved ones that they tragically lost and their lives haven’t been the same since then," said State Senator Tonya Shuitmaker.

An event Shuitmaker says is devoted to those who lost their lives to senseless crime.

"Every family grieves in their own way and so those families that find comfort usually come year after year," Shuitmaker said.

Sisters from Detroit told FOX 17 they're turning their grief into gain, speaking on behalf of their two family members who were both tragically killed.

Sheila White told us her sister was killed by her husband 20 years ago, then, 3 years ago her niece was killed coming home from a party.

"We’re healing, that’s part of our healing so that’s why we’re so honored to come here and talk about what we’ve gone through just to help someone else," said White.

They're not alone. Ardis Renkoski tells FOX 17 her daughter was taken from her 26 years ago and still doesn't know if she's alive and well.

She's been coming to Crime Victims' Vigil for more than a decade.

"It is something I always thought I was going to help others, but it’s helping me," Renkoski said.

As for those helping fight crime, they were honored Wednesday night. Kent County prosecutor, Bill Forsyth was one of the recipients.

"He’s really been an advocate and trailblazer for victims' rights and victims' families," Schuitmaker said.

Nearly a dozen families shared their story Wednesday night in an effort to break barriers, restore hope and remember their loved ones.