Victims to be honored with ornament tree at Washington County Justice Center

Becky Campbell • Updated Dec 12, 2017 at 2:46 PM

Victims of violent crimes will be remembered Tuesday night at a special wreath placement and ornament hanging at the Washington County Justice Center in Jonesborough.

It’s the third annual remembrance ceremony sponsored by HOPE for Victims. The group, fully named Help Others, Persevere, Encourage for Victims, formed in 2004 to serve survivors of murder victims.

Families can bring their own ornament, but there will be ornaments available to write their loved ones’ names on as a remembrance. A fallen police officers ornament will also be added to the display.

Joan Berry, mother of Johnia Berry, who was murdered in her Knoxville apartment in 2004 while wrapping Christmas gifts for needy children, is the director of HOPE for Victims. It’s a nonprofit organization founded in Knoxville after Johnia’s death.

Berry and LaVern Craig, whose mother, Dolly Gouge, was killed in Carter County in 1987, organized meetings for families in Northeast Tennessee in 2015.

At the time she formed HOPE for Victims, Berry said it was because of her own need.

“When Johnia was murdered, I didn’t have anyone to reach out to,” Berry said after forming the group. “No one wants talk about someone who has been murdered. You go through court and you go through victims’ assistance while you are going through court, but after that there is no one to turn to.

“So that’s how it came about. We founded it and people find it very helpful. We cry on each other’s shoulders. We tell each other the bad stories about what happened to people who were murdered and we tell each other the happy stories about them.“

Tuesday’s Remembrance Wreath ceremony will be held at 6 p.m. in the foyer of the George Jaynes Justice Center in Jonesborough and is open to the public. Victims’ survivors will be able to hang an ornament in their loved ones’ memory. The public is invited to attend.


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