Alaska homicide victims honored at ceremony
Many Alaskans might not know about the Alaska Victims Memorial. It’s tucked away on a downtown street corner where 3rd Avenue meets L Street. But for family and friends of homicide victims it is an important place of remembrance.
Thursday evening, 17 plaques were added to the memorial. Each one had the name of someone who died engraved on it.
Since the monument was built in the mid-1990s, more than 400 names have been added to it. One of the most recent is Crystal Shannon Rice-McDonald, who was killed by her husband, in Fairbanks, in 2014.
“She was always a friend for everybody. When someone was down, she was able to pick them all up and get them on the right track,” said Sandee Rice, Rice-McDonald’s older sister.
John McDonald was sentenced to two years in prison, plus one year of probation for criminally negligent homicide in his wife’s death. He was originally charged with counts of first-and-second-degree murder, but the charges were eventually dismissed.
Rice said she feels cheated.
“She’s my baby sister. This should not have happened,” she said, adding that her sister is just one of many domestic violence victims in Alaska.
“The laws on domestic violence aren’t strict enough in this state. And if they were, my sister would be here today,” said Rice.
The ceremony was organized by Victims for Justice. The organization’s executive director, Robyn Langlie, said there is a special camaraderie among the family members and friends of victims.
“This is a time for people to get together who understand each other, who have been through this together,” Langlie explained
She said the memorial is not a grave site, but rather, a place to honor those killed.
Despite Rice’s frustration, she said she can remember the good times with her sister.
“She loved everyone,” Rice said. “Even when she had her ups and downs, she continued to love everybody and [told] everybody that she loved and cared about them.”
According to Langlie, not every homicide victim’s family chooses to have a plaque installed.
She said there have been 40 homicides in Anchorage since the beginning of 2015.