20 years later...UF Memorial for Gainesville Murders
There was a memorial held at the University of Florida today to honor the five students murdered in 1990 and even after 20 years, the event was tinged with tears.
Family and friends of Christina Powell, Sonja Larson, Christa Hoyt, Manuel Taboada and Tracy Paules, said it's hard to believe that 20 years have passed. Dianna Hoyt, step-mother of Christa Hoyt said, "It's just flown by, it doesn't seem possible that it's been 20 years already."
They gathered with other supporters next to five trees planted on campus and adorned with white bows to memorialize the victims. At noon, the Century Tower bells chimed five times, once for each of the lives lost and the crowd paused to remember.
UF President Bernie Machen, Sheriff Sadie Darnell and Dr. Wayne Griffin spoke to the crowd, offering encouragement and hope that the students will never be forgotten.
Tonya Wilson, who was Christa Hoyt and Sonja Larson's roommate at the time of the murders, said this event made the memories come flooding back. She said, "My heart is just about to beat out of my chest, I didn't realize that 20 years later the emotional impact that could still remain...I was walking through campus and caught myself looking over my shoulder...that one week has shaped my whole life."
Friends and family were touched by the outpouring of support from the community and as UF student Tyler Strickland pointed out, the support will always remain. He said, "I just know that it's something that will always be remembered here on campus and that I would personally pray for the families still, for their losses, and that horrible time that they must've gone through...even though it was twenty years ago, it's probably still in their hearts and minds today."
Several members of the victims' families said they believe that moving forward is the best way to honor their loved ones memories.
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