Candlelight vigil shows 46 names of domestic violence victims, spreads awareness


Ashanti Thomas

HOPE holds a candlelight vigil to honor and remember those who have passed away from domestic violence. They read off the names of women and children who were victims while the attendees light their candles and have a moment of silence before blowing them out.

Madelyn Kidd, News Editor

Forty-six names were spoken into the dark, cold wind, with no light but a circle of candles lit by individuals who sought to remember and spread awareness at HOPE’s candlelight vigil for victims and survivors of domestic violence at Morton Park on Thursday.

HOPE of East Central Illinois is a nonprofit to help others in domestic violence situations and spread awareness about domestic violence.

Located in Charleston and serving seven area counties, HOPE provides resources for victims of domestic violence and their children. HOPE has housing, counseling, referrals and more to help victims. 

Prior to COVID-19, HOPE held annual candlelight vigils to spread awareness and provide an opportunity for others to share stories of their, or someone they know, personal experiences with domestic violence.

Multiple people including those involved with HOPE took the opportunity to speak at the vigil.

Paper bags with candles inside, have the names of domestic violence victims written on the outside for HOPE’s candlelight vigil to honor them. (Ashanti Thomas)

Rachel Heicher, the director of community engagement at HOPE, said HOPE’s goal at the candlelight vigil, on Thursday and in the past, is to spread awareness about domestic violence.

“We want people to know that domestic violence is something that happens in our communities,” Heicher said. “I think people tend to think of it as something that happens somewhere else to somebody else. And so it’s important to us to put names to personalize it to show that now this happens in Charleston and Mattoon and in all of our service area.”

During the candlelight vigil, there were decorated paper bags with LED candles inside with victims names written on the outside for 46 known people in HOPE’s service area who died as a result of domestic violence.

At the end of the vigil, the crowd gathered in a circle with lit candles in the dark as these names were read aloud.

People attending the HOPE candlelight vigil light their candles in honor of those who have passed away from domestic violence. (Ashanti Thomas)
  • Jane Manbeck, 23, Charleston
  • John D. Landrum, Edgar County Deputy Sheriff, 52, Paris
  • Holden James, 2, Charleston
  • Una Janes, 71, Cumberland County
  • Forest Janes, 77, Cumberland County
  • Ivy Welch, 93, Cumberland County
  • Penny Hendrickson, 51, Hammond
  • Reagan Williams, 2, Danville
  • Eunice Groves, 33, Marshall
  • Andrea Will, 18, Charleston
  • Minnie Abraham, 48, Shelbyville
  • Bridgett Duncan, 42, Westfield
  • Elma Oye, 58, Arthur
  • Gina Giberson, 47, Charleston
  • Diane Dennis, Mattoon
  • Samantha Cushing and unborn child, 22, Shelbyville
  • Rachel Mcfarland, 37, Mattoon
  • Kaylyn Whittaker, 20, Martinsville
  • Roberta Thompson, 50, Mattoon
  • Diane Marie Riordan Small, 26, Charleston
  • Rhonda Simmons, Marshall
  • Carolyn Rickelman, 34, Mattoon
  • Shirley Ann Rardin, 20, Charleston
  • Cheryl Lee McRill, Mattoon
  • Sherri Randall, 43, Sullivan
  • Nettie Phipps, 2 months, Vermillion
  • Jeremy Morgan, 25, Herrick
  • Sidney Robert Biggs, Shelby County Deputy Sheriff, 36, Shelby County
  • Arthur Rheinhold Blomstrom, Coles County Sheriff’s Department Constable 54, Coles County
  • Cheleta Branch, 50, Charleston
  • Kevin Brussel, 56, Casey
  • Derek Stone Bueker, 3, Toledo
  • Kayla Stone Bueker, 2, Toledo
  • Kathleen Howard, 17, Oakland
  • Kerri McKerrow, 19, Casey
  • Margaret Harrier, 64, Neoga
  • Nancy Temples, 60, Oakland
  • Gary Cox, 7, Mattoon
  • Louis Cox, 16, Mattoon
  • Mary Catherine Cox, 9, Mattoon
  • Kenneth Cox, 5, Mattoon
  • Theresa Cox, 10, Mattoon
  • Amy Cohoon, 19, Mattoon
  • Kamela Elliot, 53, Martinsville
  • Charlotte Grabbe, 39, Marshall
  • Alice Ronalds, Mattoon
  • Jacqueline Criswell

Along with the names of people who died, there was also a display for HOPE’s Clothesline Project made by survivors of domestic violence.

A woman walks around to view the messages left by domestic violence survivors on the shirts of The Clothesline Project, a display featured at HOPE’s candlelight vigil to honor people who have passed from domestic violence at Morton Park Pavillion Thursday evening. (Ashanti Thomas)
A child writes a message on a t-shirt apart of The Clothesline Project featured at HOPE’s candlelight vigil. (Ashanti Thomas)

About 46 shirts were displayed around the pavilion where the vigil took place. Each shirt was written and drawn on by survivors with various statements or artwork to spread awareness about domestic violence and surviving domestic violence.

Heicher said the project was made by clients from HOPE in the past as an artistic representation of their experiences.

The 24/7 toll-free National Domestic Violence Hotline can be called at 800-799-7233 or messaged by texting START at 88788. HOPE can be contacted at (888)345-3990.


Madelyn Kidd can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].