Victims remembered

CNJ Staff Photo: Gabriel Monte Sandra Valdez helps her son Hugo Ochoa Jr., 3, decorate a Christmas tree with an ornamental angel bearing the name of his father, Hugo Ochoa. Ochoa was shot and killed in 2006 outside of his Clovis home.

By Gabriel Monte: CNJ staff writer

Paula Rodriguez of Clovis fought through her tears as she recited a poem of loss and mourning Monday evening at the Clovis-Carver Library’s North Annex.

With the help of counselor Charlotte Farkas, she managed to push out words from the poem, “If Tears Can Build a Stairway.”

“No farewell words were spoken, you were gone before I knew it, and only God knows why,” she said as Farkas held her.

Rodriguez, 75, recited the poem after a Christmas tree was decorated with ornamental angels that bore the name of 116 victims of homicide in Curry, Roosevelt and Quay counties, according to New Mexico Victims of Homicide Support Group Chapter Leader Jennifer McKinney.

About 50 friends and families of victims of homicide attended the seventh annual tree decorating ceremony organized by the support group and the 9th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.

“It’s a ceremony to reflect hope and peace in addition to letting families know their loved ones will not be forgotten,” said district attorney Matt Chandler.

Rodriguez’ son, Daniel Lopez, was shot and killed Sept. 15, 1998 in Clovis. The case is still unsolved, according to Chandler.

“It’s good to have something like this … To be able to speak and meet with other people who have experienced the same thing,” she said. “It hasn’t been easy, the pain keeps coming back. It hurts just as deep.”

As each name was called, a bell rang, a candle was lit and an ornamental angel was placed on a Christmas tree. A projector showed pictures of some of the victims while their family members or friends hung an angel on the tree. McKinney said the tree would be relocated to the main part of the library.