SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - Fighting back tears, John Compton talked about his mother at a candlelight ceremony for National Victims' Rights Week.
"She just always had a smile on her face, she was just a great lady and when all this happened she was just torn out of her life," Compton said.
In January 2010, the unthinkable happened to Compton's mother, Wenda Holling. She was strangled to death by Timothy Evans, a man who rented a room from her. Less than a month after her body was found, Hancock County investigators tracked down Holling's killer.
"They found him on my birthday," Compton said with tears in his eyes. "So it was one of the best birthday gifts I could ever get, but it was rough. Life kind of turned upside down for a while."
Throughout the toughest time of his life, Compton said Hancock County Sheriff's investigators and those at the prosecutor's office provided his family some comfort.
"Justice did prevail through this with the help of everybody in Hancock County. Everybody there just was so great to us and I can't fathom not having someone like that protecting us," Compton said.
Three and a half years after his mother's murder, Evans was found guilty of capital murder. He was the first person in 35 years to be sentenced to death in Hancock County.
"For anybody in the criminal justice," District Attorney Joel Smith said, "it can be a job that wears on you and becomes tiring at times. But it's events like this and victims like the Holling family that make all the effort worthwhile."
"Homicide investigations are tense," Hancock County Lead Investigator Glenn Grannan said. "It's a lot of work. It's emotional, up and down, dealing with the victims you are working so hard to get justice for. When something like this takes place, no one goes home, no one goes to sleep until we get it done, until it is finished."
All that so victims like the Holling family can get the justice they deserve.
"That person that took my mother's life will never get out of jail and that's what I call justice," Compton said.
Hancock County investigators John Luther and Brandon Norman were both given awards at Friday's ceremony for their work on the Holling Case.