Young crime victims honored at annual memorial celebration
POSTED: Sunday, April 28, 2013 - 5:11pm
UPDATED: Monday, April 29, 2013 - 7:00am
El Paso, TX (KTSM) — More than a thousand crime victims were honored Sunday at the Crime Victims' Memorial ceremony.
Every single one of the 1,434 names on the wall were called out, followed by the ringing of a bell.
The ceremony is an annual tribute to those victims who lost their lives to violent crime.
District Attorney Jaime Esparza's office sponsors the event every year.
"We are really telling the families that we remember the loss, it wasn't right, their lives were cut short and we think its important as a community to remember their loss," said Esparza.
More than 60 names were added this year, but that number also includes names that had to be repaired or replaced.
The final name on the wall, as of now, is that of Isaiah Villanueva, 2, who died at the hands of his mother's boyfriend, Ever Mendez, in May, 2012.
Mendez had been dating Isaiah's mother for three to four months when he allegedly beat little Isaiah to death. Isaiah died of blunt force trauma to the abdomen. Mendez was charged with capital murder.
Elizabeth Escarsega, Isaiah's grandmother, attended the memorial with Sponge Bob balloons because she said it was Isaiah's favorite character. She said she still can't make sense of what happened.
"I would never like for a child to be taken away the way he was taken away, by being beaten to death. I loved him so much. I still do, I miss him so much," said Escarsega.
While she copes with his death, she hopes the incident will serve as a lesson for others.
"I want the people, the community if they see child abuse, not to hesitate to call it in," she said.
Cassaundra Holt's name was also added to the Crime Victims' Memorial wall. Hold was killed in May, 2012 alongside her mother, Marysol Saldivar and her mother's boyfriend, Eric DeSantiago.
Saldivar's estranged husband, Javier Soliz-Gonzalez was charged in the murders.
Anthony Aguilar, DeSantiago's nephew, said he attended the ceremony to honor his uncle, but also spent some time visiting with Holt's family.
"It brings sadness but also it brings a little bit of peace, I know they're in a good place," said Aguilar.