Tree lighting ceremony remembers Charlotte homicide victims

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police held a tree lighting ceremony Tuesday to remember victims of homicides.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police held a tree lighting ceremony Tuesday to remember victims of homicides. WBTV

Good moments can be few and far between after a relative is murdered. The holidays are especially harsh.

Family members say that’s why the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Homicide Support Group tree lighting ceremony matters.

“To support the rest of the families, to let them know there’s people out there just like them,” said Kimberly Adams, who was at the ceremony Tuesday to remember Jeanila Adams Webber.

Several families hung decorative balls with their loved ones’ names on the Christmas tree.

By Charlotte standards, it’s been a violent year. So far, there have been 56 homicides – more than all of last year.

On Tuesday, prosecutors, detectives and families stood together in the lobby of CMPD’s law enforcement center in uptown Charlotte to light the Christmas tree.

“On this holiday ... – and I speak for the detectives and the command staff and the DA’s Office – we’ll be thinking of your family,” Mecklenburg County Assistant District Attorney Bill Stetzer told families. “You’ll be on our minds and on our hearts and your cases will be on our minds and our hearts. We don’t rest and we know you don’t rest during this holiday season.”

Some of this year’s homicides are still unsolved, including the case of Kevin Rodas. The 7-year-old boy was shot and killed while he played at a birthday party Labor Day weekend. The Rodas family met with investigators to get an update on the case.

CMPD Captain Cecil Brisbon said the investigation into Kevin’s death “has gone a little bit further down the road ... but there’s still a lot of work to be done. The detectives are making some great strides, but they’re not where they need to be in order for us to close the case.”

The detectives who have been investigating the cases listened as victims’ names were read.

Investigators didn’t have to attend the ceremony. They chose to.

“This is what it’s about. This is what we do,” said CMPD Sgt. Susan Manassah. “It’s for the families who lost their loved ones. That’s where our compassion and drive comes, through caring for the families.”

For the first time, there’s now a Christmas tree in CMPD’s lobby for fallen officers in Mecklenburg County.

WBTV is a media partner of The Charlotte Observer.