Merced County families come together to remember victims of violent crimes

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One by one, pictures of those taken too soon where lined up-- their families and friends, listening to words of encouragement from those who are feeling the same pain. (KFSN)

One by one, pictures of those taken too soon where lined up-- their families and friends, listening to words of encouragement from those who are feeling the same pain.

Marylene Riley was a speaker at an annual event held by the Victim Witness Assistance Program.

Riley lost her two boys, she says Michael was killed in 2008 near the Loughborough area, and then she lost her other son, Marlis, 11 months later. She said events like this help people feeling the same heartache come together.

"It's just one day at a time, one day at a time, but the pain never goes away," said Riley.

The program helps victim's families with financial issues, counseling, and even funeral costs.

"The staff goes out to the community, does community booths, or just regular community booths-- there's still a tremendous amount of people who don't know about the program," said Lisa DeSantis, Merced CO. DA Victim Witness Assistance Program.

Program coordinators said, though, they have noticed a decrease in homicide rates. According to the city of Merced Police Department they had 11 murders in 2015-- in 2016, they only had one.

Many of the faces in the photos are gone, but they have not been forgotten. Family and friends wrote their favorite memories on stars, embracing each other as those memories were put on display.

Riley said while she feels she has not gotten justice for her sons yet, she refuses to make them a distant memory.

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