Family and friends gather to remember Derrick Harris

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HARRISONVILLE, Mo -- It has been 60 days since Kansas City's 61st homicide.  Derrick Harris died after someone shot him in the back at 16th and Lister in July.  His family is still looking for any clues that could solve his homicide.

"We're just trying to keep his memory, keep his name alive," said Cynthia Hopkins.  She looked over the more than 20 people wearing white shirts with her son's face screen printed on them.

Attached to the park shelter poles were signs with Derrick Harris's smiling face.  The posters, the balloons, the messages, all for Harris.  All because of what happened 45 minutes north of Harrisonville, what to Hopkins, seems like a lifetime ago.

"We are having a balloon release for my son, he was murdered," she said. "It would be two months tomorrow."

Hopkins said her son went up to Kansas City for a visit.  He sent her several text messages, and called her that evening.  "I said, call me in the morning. And he never called. And I knew."

He was found, shot in the back.  Since then, Cynthia Hopkins has discovered how much she lost wit her son's death.  Yet she has also found that she is not alone.

"It just amazes me how many people`s killed," she said, "how many grieving families and parents and moms and dads. You know, it affects the whole family."

Much of that family gathered in Harrisonville's City Park on Sunday afternoon.

"I just want what everybody else wants," said Debbie Pulliam, Derrick's aunt and Cynthia's sister. "I just want to find out what happened."

Family and friends held onto red and blue balloons and Derrick's memory.  (He loved the Chiefs and the Royals, hence the color choice.)    They used black markers to write messages on those balloons.  And as a group, they released those messages into the sky.

Though there are no leads, there is a $10,000 reward for answers in his death.

"I like to think that tomorrow that phone call will come," said Pulliam, "And I hope the next time we get together, there is an answer to all of this," she added, gesturing to the balloons in the sky and in the tree branches.

But while money may be what brings justice, time is what brings acceptance.  Two months, Hopkins said, isn't enough time.

"They say it gets better in time. I don't know," said Hopkins sadly.

"I don't know if we find the person that did it if it's even going to help.  You know, when your heart is broke, your heart is broke.  I can't think of anything to fix it except for him to come walking up right now."



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