Vigil scheduled to remember local victims of crimes

GREENFIELD — A toddler beaten to the death by her father. A young woman dragged into a cornfield and shot.

Their stories are among those that shocked the Hancock County community in the last year, stories that will be remembered next week during a vigil honoring local crime victims.

The event, scheduled for 6 to 7 p.m. Thursday at the Courthouse Annex, coincides with National Crime Victims’ Rights week, an awareness effort sponsored each year by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs.

The 2016 theme for the week — Serving Victims. Building Trust. Restoring Hope. — stresses the need to recognize those affected by crimes and expand community resources offered to those who survive. Such efforts help restore victims’ hope for healing and recovery, national organizers said.

The prosecutor’s office’s event keeps in step with those sentiments, said victim assistant Katie Molinder.

It will begin with a memorial honoring those who lost their lives to crime in Hancock County in recent years, Molinder said.

Family members of Zoey Wagoner, a 1-year-old girl who was murdered by her father in their family’s Greenfield home, and Katrina Miller, a 23-year-old Indianapolis woman who was shot and killed in a Hancock County cornfield in July 2014, are expected to attend and share with the crowd.

A panel of local first-responders and prosecuting attorneys will then hold a question-and-answer session in an effort to give residents a better understanding of their approach to investigations, Molinder said.

The family members and investigators involved will offer insight on their experiences with the local legal system and detail what they have learned about the resources available to crime victims. A member of local law enforcement will be recognized for their efforts within the local crime-victim community, as well.

Hancock County Prosecutor Brent Eaton said he hopes the gathering will help build a bridge between local law enforcement and the community. The police and prosecutors who investigate crimes in the county aren’t nameless figures but community servants eager to aid those in need, he said.

“We want to public to know we want to help them and steer them in the right direction,” Eaton said. “We want people to be safe and secure — that’s the focus of what we do.”

Molinder, who was hired in 2015 as the prosecutor’s office’s first victim assistant, hosted a similar event last spring. She and Eaton say they hope this gathering will expand upon last year’s event and helps the office’s victims’ assistance program grow.

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Caitlin VanOverberghe is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3237 or cvanoverberghe@greenfieldreporter.com.