INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — They sit empty, but carry a powerful message: 135 pairs of shoes belonging those killed in violent crime in 2014.
They are part of a new exhibit at the Indianapolis Central Library honoring the Indianapolis’s murder victims.
“I see the victims that were stopped short, with their hopes and dreams. And I see their loved ones, whose hopes and dreams for the victim were stopped short right there on that day they were murdered,” said Stephanie Rader, who lost her son Joseph four years ago.
Soccer cleats. High heels. Sneakers. The tiniest pair of ballet flats, never to be danced in again. The collection of shoes are a haunting reminder of those who once stood in them.
“I never in all my life dreamed that my son, my precious son, would be murdered. That was not in the equation of his life,” said Rader.
Since her son’s death, she has gone to counseling and attended the Legacy House, a support center for children and adults affected by violence.
“It helped me to step outside my own box and see that I was not alone,” she said.
She shares her grief with people like Shari Kelley, whose daughter was killed in a domestic dispute. More than two years later, she describes her loss as a hole in her heart.
“I wish I could have been there in some capacity, to try to have helped her. And I know that probably doesn’t make any sense, but as a mother you’re supposed to protect your children,” said Kelley. “I didn’t protect her.”
The families hope that the shoes will remind people not just about the lives lost, but of the struggles faced by the people they leave behind.
“We do need words of encouragement in order to heal and move forward,” said Rader.
The new exhibit runs through tomorrow as part of National Crime Victim Rights week.
Local events for National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, April 19-25, include:
- Wednesday April 22: Sexual Assault Forum at the Indianapolis Public Library (Central Library Auditorium), 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
- Thursday April 23: ROCC-a-Thon on Monument Circle, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Saturday April 25: Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, IUPUI Wood Plaza Fountain
For more information, contact the Legacy House at 317-554-5272 or click here.