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Families remember at Cape Candlelight Ceremony

By Staff | May 12, 2012

Survivors had a chance Thursday evening to remember their lost loved ones during the Cape Coral Police Department’s annual Candlelight Ceremony.

Hosted at police headquarters by the department’s Victim Assistance Unit, the event included the lighting of “candles” – glowsticks given to attendees – a handful of poem readings and a sharing of names of those who passed.

Police Chief Jay Murphy spoke to the audience, as did Jan Cornell.

On May 10, 1990, Cornell arrived at her home, at 631 S.E. 12th Ave., to discover the bodies of her 11-year-old daughter, Robin Cornell, and her roommate, Lisa Story. They had been suffocated and sexually assaulted.

Thursday marked the 22nd anniversary of their deaths.

“I’m not here tonight to talk about her murder,” Cornell said to the crowd, referring to her daughter. “I’m here to talk about her life.”

She spoke of Robin’s smile and of her freckles. She told the story of how there was a Mother’s Day card among her daughter’s items – Cornell’s last. Robin wrote in a poem how balloons in the sky mean she loves her mother.

Cornell said she thinks of Robin every time she sees one.

A 22-balloon release marked the moment and tragic anniversary.

“The events of tonight bring a lot of special meaning to a lot of people,” Murphy said, adding that the CCPD is built on the tradition of family.

“This is our chance to come together as a family,” he said.

Murphy also offered words of comfort to those in attendance, reminding them that one day, he and they will be with lost loved ones once again.

The audience was given a chance to come forward and speak their loved one’s name during the sharing of names. About 30 names were read.

Survivors were also invited to bring a photo to put on display.

Kelsey Brissette said she attended the ceremony for her sister, Tara Brissette, who was killed by her boyfriend in May 2011, before he took his own life. Karissa Dubay, a cousin of the two sisters, was also present.

“I’m looking for support that I need,” Brissette said, adding that it helps “seeing other people in the same situation,” knowing she is not alone.

Brissette said the last year has been hard on her family.

“We’re all getting through it together,” she said.

Brissette also lost her father last year to cancer, and her brother four years before to the same disease at 22. She attended for them, too.

Dubay wanted to be around others who had suffered the same loss.

“But also, just keeping her memory alive,” she added of why she came.

“We’ll always just think about them all the time,” Dubay said.

She appreciated that the CCPD hosts the annual event.

“For them to put it on for everybody, it’s just a good thing,” Dubay said. “It’s good support for everybody.”

About 175 people attended the 30-minute ceremony, officials said.