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September 25. 2012 11:08PM

Remembering the loss and seeking solace from the pain


Cindy Huard, whose two children were murdered, holds roses for their stones at the statewide memorial in Laconia on Tuesday, while attending a national day of remembrance for victims of murder. (Paula Tracy/Union Leader)
LACONIA — The parents and friends of New Hampshire's murder victims gathered in a small rose garden along the Winnipesaukee River Tuesday to remember all taken by violence at the hands of another and to support each other.

“It helps to talk about him, it really does,” said Joanne Gagnon of Barrington, whose son, Ryan Stewart of Farmington, was murdered Jan. 22.

It has been eight months since her 22 year-old son was taken and it remains surreal to her, she said.

“It's still numbing,” she said. “It is particularly hard at family events,” she said. She noted that Ryan's younger cousin has been selected to be quarterback of his football team and her son would have loved to go see those games.

Gagnon held a bright balloon in the shape of the heart and along with dozens of other victims of family members released it into the blue sky following a ceremony that included prayer, a song, taps and a proclamation from the City of Laconia.

The gathering was to honor a National Day of Remembrance.

Joanne and Tony Gagnon are still awaiting the trial of two men “who were supposed to be his friends,” Chris Gay and Corey Bennett. The trial is likely to be next June. News accounts indicate that their son was stabbed to death in his apartment and robbed.

The Gagnons have found some comfort in talking about the loss with others as members of the Parents of Murdered Children.

Carmen Doucette is president of the Greater Lakes Region Chapter of the Parents of Murdered Children. She lost her daughter to murder more than 20 years ago, but she said volunteering and support “helps me an awful lot.”

April Farewell of Enfield lost her daughter, Cynthia Nostrant, in 1998. Her boyfriend murdered her and killed himself, leaving behind two children, Holly, now 34, and Harry, now 24. They live in North Carolina.

“I just feel cheated,” said Farewell, who attended the ceremony.

“My mother's gone and my daughter's gone.”

The ceremony was held in the new Parents of Murdered Children Homicide Memorial Garden in Stewart Park, near the intersection of Main Street and Union Avenue in Laconia.

The garden has stones for murder victims, each donated by their families. The stones are surrounded by red rose bushes and there are now 70 memorials.

The names include Sarah Renkert, Kenneth M. Countie, Jennifer Huard, Tammy Jo Bull, Krista Dittmeyer, James LeRoy, Deborah Glines and Cheryl Ann Maher. Each life was cut short by homicide.

Some of the cases have been solved and others have not.

Cindy Huard was there with her surviving family and friends to lay two roses on the stones of her children, Jeremy and Jennifer. The two were killed in 2006 in Belmont.

Some who attended were there to support all those who have lost loved ones, and some were there to remember victims who were killed in other states.

Valerie Bean, who was there to support Carmen Doucette, offered a prayer, noting that “God is a refuge for us. We're all broken vessels.”

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Paula Tracy may be reached at ptracy@unionleader.com.

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