- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 10, 2005

Marion M. Jones blinked back tears repeatedly yesterday as she made the keynote address at a memorial service for 561 Southern Maryland crime victims.

“This is probably the hardest thing I have ever had to do,” said Mrs. Jones, 48, of Clinton, as she described how she learned that her son, Thomas “T.J.” Holly, 22, was fatally shot nine times in 2002 in the District.

A crowd of about 600 listened silently and nodded their heads in agreement in the auditorium of the Student Center of Prince George’s County Community College in Largo.

It was the 16th annual statewide Memorial Service for Crime Victims and Their Families. Similar programs were conducted by state’s attorney’s offices in Dorchester, Harford and Washington counties.

At 4 p.m. near the Lincoln Theatre at 1215 U St. NW in the District, the 25th anniversary of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week was celebrated with a parade led by the Anthony Bowen Tigers YMCA Marching Band.

“It’s important for survivors to be treated with respect and dignity, to receive compassionate treatment,” said Prince George’s State’s Attorney Glenn F. Ivey.

Later, commemorative certificates were presented to Mr. Ivey and to Roberta Roper, who established the Stephanie Roper Committee and Foundation 23 years ago, after her daughter was kidnapped, assaulted, raped and killed in Prince George’s County.

The Stephanie Roper Committee has been incorporated with the Maryland Crime Victims’ Resource Center, and Mrs. Roper is chairwoman of the board of directors.

Two slain sons were the incentive for Paula Davis, 48, of Olney, to attend the service in Prince George’s. Daryl V. Lash Jr., 22, was stabbed twice in the District on Aug. 20, 2002.

His older brother, Rashad I. Matthews, 24, was shot when he went to a Rockville motel to pick up a friend on March 20, 2004.

A $10,000 reward will be paid to a person who provides information leading to the capture of either killer, said Mrs. Davis, who was wearing a black T-shirt emblazoned with photos of her sons and the words, “You’re complete and smiling now that you’re with your baby brother.”

During the program, an emotional Mrs. Davis had to leave the hall, followed by Mr. Lash’s girlfriend, Shannon Cubbage, 22, of Hyattsville, who went to comfort her grief-stricken friend.

Trevon Crosby, 10, sang “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and about two dozen children followed a bagpiper, carrying a net bedecked with white stars that they draped under a sign that read, “Their Light Still Shines.”

Mrs. Jones expressed bitterness — “I was angry with God” — after the man suspected of being her son’s killer was acquitted.

But, she said, her religious faith became a source of comfort.

She urged the audience to express hope to gain comfort.

“Hope means to open people’s ears,” Mrs. Jones said. “If we move forward in our loved one’s memory, we will give hope to others.”


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