GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - They gathered to honor and recognize the rights of crime victims. First Baptist Church in Gulfport hosted the annual candlelight ceremony, organized by District Attorney Joel Smith and his staff.
The theme for 2016 is Serving Victims, Building Trust, Restoring Hope.
Perhaps the strongest voice at the ceremony came from a teenage girl. Autumn Bolden-Smith was the victim of sexual abuse at age 11. The gifted singer said the horrible crime, "silenced my voice."
She later found her voice when she returned to church. Since then, she's become a youth worship leader and plans on studying law at Ole Miss so she can help victims of crime, just as she was helped by others.
The family of murder victim Xavier Monroe lit candles at the service. His mother tells WLOX News Now that the family is still recovering, but is doing well thanks to the support of law enforcement, the DA's office and a caring community.