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Community Gathers to Remember Area Crime Victims

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Community members gathered at Phelps Grove Park in Springfield Thursday night as nearly a dozen bricks were added to the Victim's Memorial Garden. The event remembers the victims of violent crimes and lifts the spirits of those left behind.
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. --  The Springfield Victim's Memorial Garden has nearly a dozen new bricks.

A ceremony took place tonight at Phelps Grove Park.  Eleven bricks were recognized and added to the Victim's Memorial Garden-- including one for ten year old Hailey Owens, who was abducted just blocks away from her Springfield home and killed in February.  Craig Wood has been charged with the crime.

Another brick there now honors nearly two month old Kaiden Light.  He was smothered by his mother in 2010. 

The event Thursday night not only remembered the victims-- but also lifted the spirits of those left behind.

"We are not alone," says Andrea Burns, a family friend of Kaiden Light.

For Deborah Conklin, who is Kaiden's grandmother, and Andrea Burns-- Kaiden's brick is more than just something paved into the ground.  It's a memory of an infant they once held and continue to love.

"He was a really happy baby," says Burns.  "Really happy."

Earlier this year, two month old Kaiden Light's 27-year-old mother was sentenced to life in prison for smothering the bright eyed child.

"My world stopped," says Kaiden's Grandmother, Deborah Conklin.  "And everyone else's goes on."

Tonight, the Greene County Prosecutor's Office made sure that although Kaiden is gone, his memory is not.  Their brick went to Kaiden.

"It's awful to lose a child no matter what," says Conklin.  "But to lose and stand by a baby or child's grave taken by the hands of abuse, there are no words for it."

Kaiden's loved ones recently founded a non-profit charity that brings awareness to child abuse.  It's called "Kaiden's Voice for the Abused."

"People need to understand all the forms of child abuse," says Conklin.  "And families need to notice that."

"That's what this is about," says Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams.  "Supporting victims of crime and doing the best we can to make sure those things that have happened in the past don't occur in the future."

Kaiden's family continues to stand for Kaiden.  Tonight, they weren't standing alone.

Now, their little angel, Kaiden's family finds hope and healing in knowing they can help prevent these crimes in the future and join with others who have felt a similar pain.

"He's not just another number or name on a piece of paper," says Burns.  "He stands for something-- and that is that we won't tolerate crimes against children, we won't.  The community is standing up.  The awareness is spreading, and I like to think his name is behind it."

Each year, there's also a brick from the Springfield Police Department.  This year, that brick is in honor of its Crime Analysis Unit.



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