Day of remembrance in Central Park cites 200 homicide victims (with photo gallery)
SCHENECTADY Barbara Conary recalled her son Brett Wentworth on Wednesday as a man whose life was full of tough challenges, but challenges his family always helped him through.
When she lost him in April 2010, “nothing ever could have prepared me for that,” an emotional Conary told those gathered Wednesday for the Ceremony of Remembrance of Homicide Victims in Schenectady’s Central Park. “The unfairness of being murdered is even worse.”
Conary and her daughter Margaret Messer, both of Niskayuna, spoke in succession at the ceremony, each wearing pins with Wentworth’s picture and the words “We have hope.”
Wentworth, of Wendell Avenue, was 41 when he was killed. His assailant is unknown.
The ceremony of remembrance is an annual event held in Central Park, usually in the park’s Rose Garden. Wednesday’s chilly temperatures and threat of rain forced it into the park pavilion.
The event is hosted by the Vito A. Masi Memorial Center for Nonviolence. The Rose Garden is the hoped-for venue as many of the bushes are dedicated to homicide victims. The ceremony has been held each year since 1997, with families given an opportunity to remember their loved ones in their own way. Red boards carry photos of many local homicide victims. Wentworth’s photo was there.
Organizers also try to remember as many victims as possible through simply reciting their names. Those present read through a list of 200 names, each an individual who had his or her own story in life. The first ceremony had a list of just 45 names.
Pat Gioia, head of the local chapter of the support group Parents of Murdered Children, spoke, hoping for the day when the list would stop growing.
“All of us should try our best to live our lives within our own pursuit in a peaceful way,” Gioia said, “and try to be an example to all the young people who come along that violence is not the answer. We have to love one another.”
Gioia’s daughter, Mary Regina Gioia, was killed in 1985 in California.
The event was attended by Mayor Gary McCarthy, Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney and Public Safety Commissioner Wayne Bennett.
McCarthy read a city proclamation honoring homicide victims. “We never want to forget those individuals who have been victimized by crime,” he said.
Rabbi Moshe Mirsky, of Congregation Beth Israel, gave similar sentiments in the invocation.
“We gather today to grieve, to mourn, to cry, to remember and to honor the memories of these precious souls,” Mirsky said.
Among the names added to the list over the past year was Rafeena Rahaman, killed in February by her ex-boyfriend Ramcumar Bandhoo. Bandhoo then killed himself.
Martha Lasher Warner lost her daughter Liza in 2004 in a similar case of domestic violence, killed by her abusive husband, who then killed himself.
Warner has spent the years since helping victims and speaking out against domestic violence, especially to young people.
The message, Warner said, is that “domestic violence is not only a broken bone and a black eye, that the signs can be very subtle and it can happen at a very young age.”
Wentworth was found dead April 12, 2010, inside his 1019 Wendell Ave. apartment. An autopsy concluded that his death was a homicide. It also concluded that he had been killed the day before.
Family members have worked with police over the past two years to get the word out about his killing, hoping that anyone with information would come forward. The family and police also announced a $2,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the killer. Anyone with information is asked to contact the city police crime tips line at 788-6566.
“We don’t know who did this horrible thing,” Wentworth’s sister Messer told those gathered, “but we pray every day. We rely on our police department and the district attorney and we have faith that they will bring justice for my brother, for my parents’ son and for his daughter’s father.”