Families of metro’s 193 homicide victims gather for ‘The Longest Night’

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LEAWOOD, Kan. -- Loved ones of 193 people killed across the metro in 2016 gathered Wednesday on the longest night of the year, as they continue to face one of the darkest periods of their lives.

Leawood Baptist Church placed crosses on their front lawn with the name of each victim. They asked their families to come and grieve with them.

“Why both my friends, my boys, my boys,” Loise Barnes Durham exclaimed to the audience.

It’s the second-straight year Loise Barnes Durham listened to the message of going through the guilt, grieving and then trying to get on with life. Her son Keenon Durham was murdered eight months after her other son Kevin was shot and killed.

“They took my best friends. Life will never be the same I cry every day, not a day goes by that I don’t think about both of them, in my wildest dreams I never thought I’d be here again,” Durham said.

“The challenge is how do I get back up and keep going?” Pastor G. Cornelius Jones asked the audience.

After many mothers and siblings shared their stories of loss, members of the church read aloud the name of each of the 193 victims and offered prayers for their families.

“It helps us to be able to keep going because we know there are other people out there that have our back. They know they haven’t experienced what we’ve experienced, but they will be there for us,” Catalina Dydell said.

As much as it helps the families to be with others this time of year who have experienced loss, not every family's story is the same. Some are waiting on sentencing for their loved one’s killings, others for trials, while some, like Craig Dydell's family, are still seeking answers.

“I want people to know that when you sit at home at Christmas time and you see your family, your loved ones, your kids, remember the ones that have lost a loved one and you have information that could probably put an ease to their heart,” Craig's mother Jessica Dydell said.

Of the 193 names read, 123 were people killed in Kansas City, Missouri. That figure is already the city’s highest homicide rate in eight years.