Families gather at CMPD’s annual Memory Tree lighting to remember loved ones


CHARLOTTE, N.C. — As the 103rd homicide in Charlotte is being investigated by police, the loved ones of those who were killed are making sure their lives are being honored during the holidays.

This was the 10th Annual Tree Lighting ceremony. FOX 46 spoke with one woman who says tonight is a reminder that she’s not alone on this long road of healing.

“My parents were murdered in 2017 by my ex-husband and I’ve been coming to the group for the last two years, two and a half years,” said Keydra White.

White is just one of many people in this small room at CMPD who lost a loved one at the hands of someone else. Vernal Smith Jr. is accused of murdering White’s parents, Rufus and Penny Gordon were killed by


“When it first happened I was depressed and not wanting to talk and be around people and one day I decided to come and it helped me feel better knowing that other people are out there like myself going through the same things,” White said. 

White was at the tree lighting ceremony led by CMPD’s homicide support group. One by one, names were called to hang on the Remembrance Tree.

“We have this so families can come and honor their loved ones so that they know their memory isn’t forgotten,” said Shardal Rose with the CMPD victim support group.

With the number of homicides increasing in the Queen City, White says she prays for peace.

“I think it’s crazy how our youth are just out of control and I just don’t understand what’s going on and why they feel a need to continue to hurt each other,” White said.

Volunteers from the community who have supported these victims’ families were also rewarded tonight.

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