Vigil will turn into celebration in light of Halloween murder closure


For 24 years, an annual Halloween vigil served as a constant reminder of the Halloween murders that rocked Decatur.

With police pinpointing the man they believe killed Theresa Hall and Sherry Gordon, leaders from youth with a positive direction say the vigil will turn into a celebration.

Representatives from youth with a positive direction have worked feverishly to keep the topic of the Halloween murders in the spotlight for the past 24 years. They said Wednesday that they were relieved the man who sexually battered and killed 9-year-old, Theresa Hall and 12-year-old, Sherry Gordon can not harm any other children.

"It's justice, now that we know and the perpetrator is not around our children," said Margaret Walker of youth with a positive direction. "That's given me justice."

It's been a long, tearful journey for youth with a positive direction members Margaret Walker and Paula Clark. Year after year, the two women served as a voice for two innocent girls whose lives were brutally cut short 24 years ago.

"When it hit, it hit home," Walker said.

Walker's own children were close friends with the girls. She says every day since their disappearance she's lived with the weight of what happened.

Walker said "we had the alternative program, the carnival at the church, so the kids wouldn't get in any trouble, and then after this happened it was like a burden on my shoulder."

Now that police have pinpointed Melvin Johnson as the man they say took the girls lives, Clark and Walker plan to help the family recover from the 24 year old wound that was never allowed to heal.

"The children are gone, you can't bring them back," said Paula Clark. "We live with that everyday, but to have that peace, being able to go on, knowing that someone has been held accountable for the death of our children. For me as a mother, who stands in the same place they stand, and wear the same shoes they wear, it gives me peace. Because the peace that I have, they now can have."

Wednesday night, youth with a positive direction will hold an event to celebrate today's news and also to discuss youth and violence in Decatur. The event starts at 6:30 p.m.

For more on that event and if you missed today's news conference, it's available for you anytime at

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