Durham’s homicide victims remembered
At the 22nd Annual Vigil Against Violence on Tuesday, there came a time during the service for the part that changes every year: reading the list of names. Thirty-two people were victims of homicide in 2013 in Durham.
The name was read aloud, a bell was rung, and loved ones were invited to walk up to the front of the sanctuary at Shepherds House Church in Northeast Central Durham, to be recognized and loved by the vigil’s organizers, the Religious Coalition for a Nonviolent Durham and Parents of Murdered Children.
“This is a person. This is not just a name, not just a statistic, not just a number,” said Effie Steele, a leader in the Religious Coalition.
When JeVontez Massey’s name was called out, his sister Direcia Massey came forward. JeVontez, 22, was shot and killed Nov. 5, 2013, near Golden Belt. A few others stepped forward as their loved ones’ names were read. They waited as the entire list was read. Aside from JeVontez, there was Kinta Newman, Lashaun Hunt, Brian Keys, Aubrey Parrish, JeJuan Taylor Jr., Maurice Streeter, Tina Maynard, Kelvin Leathers, Deandre Oliver, Millicent Blair-Arnett, Jermaine McDonald. Name after name was called aloud, a bell rung and silenced. Michael Lee, Ronald Leathers, Takoreio Jackson, Dion Williams, Maurice Arnold, Travis Knight, Ella Davis, Jose Ocampo, April Mitchell, Lorenzo Hernandez, Demario Lucas, Jonathan Moore, Maxine Burns, Quaysean Malachi, Patrick Holmes, Saul Abrimz, Jessica Liriano, Jerron McGirt and Desmond Williams. All their lives were ended by violence in 2013.
Steele invited parents at the service who had lost a child to homicide in any year to come up and comfort the family members standing there. Many more people came forward, hugging them.
“We are standing with you,” said Steele, whose own daughter and grandson were murdered. Then everyone there who had lost a loved one to violence was invited to say those names, too. A few dozen people crowded in front of the pews.
Direcia Massey was not the only one there for JeVontez. Their little brother Jarvis was there, too, and their mother Maxette.
“To me he was like a leader, and I always followed,” Jarvis Massey said. “He was just a good kid.”
“He was one of the best brothers in the world,” Direcia Massey said. JeVontez worked at Dame’s Chicken and Waffles downtown and did nothing but work and take care of his daughter, she said. “He was a family-oriented man and loved life.”
Patience Quick, JeVontez’s girlfriend and the mother of their daughter, Jordyn, also attended the Vigil Against Violence. Quick said it has been so hard that she didn’t even have a word to describe it.
“It feels like it happened yesterday,” she said of JeVontez’s death. Jordyn will be 2 years old in June. Quick makes her kiss his picture every night so she’ll remember him.
“I feel like I can smell him all around me. I miss him,” Quick said.
She’ll tell their daughter that JeVontez worshipped the ground Jordyn walked on before she was even born.
JeVontez’s mom, Maxette Massey, said that once Jordyn was born, he showed his manhood.
“He grew up to be a man and take care of his child. He was a family guy. He worked hard,” Massey said.