The Longest Night: Homicide victims in Jackson, Wyandotte County remembered

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — For 10 years, Wornall Road Baptist Church has put crosses out for every homicide victim in Jackson County, Missouri.

This year, the annual ‘Longest Night’ service included victims from Wyandotte County, Kansas, totaling more than 230 crosses.

“It’s a visual reminder to our city of the suffering many people are going through during Christmas. This literally is the longest night of the year and darkest. But it’s also a long night for mothers, brothers, sisters and dads who lost loved ones to homicide,” said Longest Night Service coordinator Mark Clifton.

For the family of Johnny Sanders, the crosses are a visual reminder of their pain.

“We came expecting to see, it, at the same time, it’s triggering,” said Belva Evans. “They don’t have any information, any leads at this point, everything has dried up. The holidays have been very different, very, very different, very challenging.”

Sanders was shot and killed while sitting in his car in the Ruskin Heights Neighborhood, February of 2021. He was 30-years old.

Families of victims gathering to comfort each other not only outside, but inside, too.

Each name of the more than 200 victims were shown at the special winter solstice service.

“This is an opportunity for us to remember those who are hurting in our city this year. It’s also an opportunity for us to refuse to accept as normal this amount of violence and an opportunity for us to commit ourselves to do all we can do to make our city a safer place,” Clifton said.

This special service began in 2011 after a teen, Rickey King, who attended Southwest High School was killed in a drive-by shooting.

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