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For Murder Victims, A Garden Of Peace03:45
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A new stone in the Garden of Peace. (Monice Brady-Myerov/WBUR)
A new stone in the Garden of Peace. (Monice Brady-Myerov/WBUR)

On the day Julissa Brisman was memorialized in Boston, her mother called her daughter's accused murderer a "monster" and a "coward." The so-called "Craigslist killer," Philip Markoff, committed suicide in his jail cell last month. As a result, prosecutors formally dropped the case against him Thursday.

On the same day, Brisman and 34 other homicide victims were honored in an annual ceremony at Boston's Garden of Peace.

Garden of Peace: Solace For Victim's Families

Attorney General Martha Coakley reads the names of homicide victims as their stones are dedicated at the Garden of Peace. Before the service, Brisman's mother, Carman Guzman, said she felt a lot of rage and pain because she wanted to confront Markoff in court.

Guzman, who is from the Dominican Republic, says Markoff should have faced up to justice. But he was a coward, she says, for committing suicide.

Guzman was among hundreds of family and friends of murder victims remembering their loss at the small park called the Garden of Peace, a place filled with carved stones made to look like a river bed in a plaza near the State House.

Before the ceremony, Tina Wheeler finds her niece’s engraved stone.

"This is beautiful, it’s very nice for these people,  all the homicide victims, to be honored," Wheeler says.

The stone marks the day 30-year-old Danielle Grady was born,  and the day she was shot,  in 2007. Grady was murdered while sitting in the back seat of a car in Dorchester. Wheeler says police still have no motive or suspects.

"It’s like it happened yesterday. Something you never forget. It’s just a tragedy now when I see all this. It’s terrible; this violence has to stop. It's unbelievable," Wheeler says.

The Garden of Peace honors 690 murder victims from all over the commonwealth, but the majority are from Boston.

The Victims

Terrance Jacobs is one of the victims being honored; he was killed in an ambush in Dorchester three years ago.

"Every year it gets harder and harder, so, I don’t know, it’s not a good feeling at all, he was only 16," says Terrance's aunt, Ladawn Jacobs.

Some people kneel quietly by the engraved stones; others cry. Some have brought pictures and flowers.

Joanna Alcantara has brought her 3-year-old son in a stroller. His father, 25-year-old Luis Ortiz, was killed in 2008 in Allston by a single gunshot wound to the chest.

"It actually makes me feel great that they have something like this for victims of Boston who do get killed. And it’s also a good place for family to come and console themselves here with him," Alcantara says.

At the time the peace garden was dedicated in 2004 there were 321 names. Every year since then engraved stones are added at the request of family and friends, says Toni Troop, chair of the Garden of Peace board. This year there are 35 more names.

"As of next year we are going to need to start engraving names on other surfaces in the garden because sadly there are just no more stones available," Troop says.

Troop says the victims come from all communities and were killed in robberies, domestic fights, gang shootouts and just random acts of violence. The commonality, says Troop, is that their lives were cut short.

This program aired on September 17, 2010.

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