Families remember loved ones lost to violence

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - For families of murder victims, the holidays can be painful reminders of the ones they're missing.

Many gathered tonight to remember and pray for them. This was the fourth annual Remembrance Tree hosted by the Hope for Victims organizations.

"It's always tough, everyday. But the holidays I think are especially tough," said Tina Gregg, whose daughter Brooke Morris was killed last year.

One by one, family members and friends of victims talked about their loved ones. Each also left ornaments dedicated in their memory on the big tree.

"There's not anything we can do for our family member that was taken by a violent crime, so this is our Christmas to them," said Joan Berry, the president of Hope for Victims.

Gregg says the support of friends, family and the community gets them through the tough times.

"It does help because we all come together, we all lost someone that we loved. Husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, children," said Gregg.

"It means a lot to have support, we need it," said Robin Owens.

Next week will mark one year since Robin's daughter, Brittany Eldridge, was found dead in her Knoxville apartment.

No one has answered for her murder.

"It's been awful, and really hard, and really sad," said Owens.

Chuck Williams advocated for victims even before his own son, Henry James, was killed.

"He bought me a TV. No one wants that TV in our family because that TV, the whole time, seems like he's talking to me. It's sitting in my back bedroom on the floor with blankets over it," said Williams.

He also had a message for everyone in the room.

They have to keep pushing for stronger laws to protect the victims. He said the families also need to be the voice for the ones taken away by violence.

That voice is why Joan Berry helped form hope for victims after her own daughter, Johnia, was killed eight years ago this week.

Knoxville Police Chief David Rausch says there have been 20 murders in the city so far this year.

That means more people coming out tonight for the first time.

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