Gravesite Visit Reveals a Life Cut Short

Knowing how to report a crime helps keep our communities safe

By Robert Navarro, PsyD
Published on LatinoLA: January 16, 2013

Gravesite Visit Reveals a Life Cut Short

Anyone who has visited Resurrection Cemetery during the holidays knows how decorated the grounds become during that period. Miniature trees, bright streamers, and family artifacts decorate many of the graves. Of course I make my visit to mom and dad, abuela, and my cousin Kathy. It's a special place to visit and it does the heart good.

But there is one grave that carries a dark shadow for me. I never knew this person. This person's gravesite sits just a stone's throw from my parents. It's a simple flat dark grey marker with a name, year of birth and death, and a sentiment from the family. An engraving of a small angel sitting on a cloud adorns the upper left hand corner. On the upper right is an engraving of the Holy Guardian Angel looking over two children crossing a bridge, an image that many of us are familiar with as children. In the center is a photograph.

I found this grave site quite by accident. I often stroll through the cemetery grounds looking at the multitude of plaques, wondering how life had treated these departed souls. These thoughts soon lead me to think about my own life and how fortunate I've been. I have two children in their twenties, both seemingly very happy. My youngest, a girl, has bought her first home and is engaged to be married in the next year. It wasn't so long ago that we were able to share many happy memories during her school yearsher first dance, four years of band, proms, birthdays, college graduation, and her recent engagement to a great guy.

The cool wind kicks up and I gather my thoughts to the present. This "person" whom I speak of was born just two months before my own daughter. But life ended early for her at the age of 15. Just two blocks from her own home on a school day she was kidnapped and killed by suspected gang members. And what bothers me are the dances, school activities, proms, birthdays, graduations, and possibly marriage and children that she and her loved ones missed.

As she had done many times before, her brief walk to her friend's home for a ride to school proved fatal that morning. She probably struggled with her abductors and possibly screamed out loud, possibly alerting witnesses. But no one has come forward and the case remains unsolved. I am not apt to point fingers at possible witnesses as I know there are fears of retaliation.

Anonymous reporting to neutral independent third party organizations, such as WeTip, can assist police in investigating possible crimes and suspects. Participation in Neighborhood Watch programs and the reporting of graffiti once it happens helps keep the neighborhood clean. LAPD lists Anonymous Web tips on their website as do most police agencies.

On my travels through neighborhoods in East Los Angeles and Boyle Heights, one can get an idea of how citizens treat their own homes, blocks, and neighborhoods. Some look reasonably well kept despite heavy foot and car traffic. Cross the street into the adjoining neighborhood and one finds disregard for the neighborhood and graffiti which stays untouched for months.

Is it time for an action plan in your block or neighborhood?

Not everyone will care, but caring can start with you.

About Robert Navarro, PsyD:
Adolescent Psychotherapist and filmmaker. Current film project includes "Gang Indoctrination and Retention: A Guide for Parents of Grade School Children in the Hispanic Community". English/Spanish.
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