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Fairbanks Gathering of Remembrance pays tribute to missing persons, unsolved homicide victims

Published: Apr. 26, 2021 at 4:21 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - On April 26th, the Gathering of Remembrance was held to pay tribute to unsolved homicide victims and missing persons.

The event was held at noon on the Centennial Bridge in Fairbanks where families, law enforcement and clergy members remembered those lost. Names of those being recognized were called out, and those in attendance who knew them would toss a rose into the water in their memory.

Reverend Shirley Lee, Assisting Priest at St. Jude’s in North Pole. explained, “Before the late Shirley Demientieff passed away, she had asked me to take over some of the community events she hosted. The Gathering of Remembrance was evolved from one of the events she held on an annual basis, and part of it came from Sophie Sergie’s parents asking her for help because they didn’t want their daughter to be forgotten.”

According to Lee, the event is also an opportunity for law enforcement to meet with family members of the victims. Reverend Lee remarked, “Some years, the gathering has served as a place for law enforcement to meet with family members. This event’s been held for quite some time and in the beginning there wasn’t always good communication between law enforcement and families. I believe that’s improved now, but there’s still over 40 names on the list of unsolved cases and people are still searching. So it’s important to say their names out loud every year so that everyone knows that they are not forgotten.”

Members of both the Fairbanks Police Department and the Alaska State Troopers were in attendance for the ceremony. Ronald Wall, Captain Detachment Commander for the Alaska State Troopers said, “I think it’s a really good thing to get the families and law enforcement and friends together to remember those that are missing, either at the hands of others or due to natural events. These people are never out of our thoughts, they’re always there - and I think it’s really important. If you want to look at any of the recent cases that we’ve solved, what I ask is that people come forward with the clues, with information regarding these missing individuals, and please keep in mind that every case is just one clue away from being solved. You may not know what that piece of information is, but I just ask that you cooperate with local law enforcement and help us resolve this for the families and the community.”

Ron Dupee, Fairbanks Chief of Police spoke on the police’s continued efforts to solve these cases. Dupee stated, ”It’s always good to come out and remember our lost ones and loved ones that are still missing, and cases that we’re still working. We just like to let the community know that just because time has passed, we haven’t given up on these cases. We’re still investigating them, still looking for the individuals and who, if anyone, is at fault.”

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