Mother holds vigil for murdered child

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – A grieving mother held a vigil Saturday afternoon for her only child who was gunned down in broad daylight eight years ago. Then, 20-year-old, Damion Wheeler was killed near the corner of Baxter St and Lillie St on June 28th, 2006.

His mother, Denise Wheeler, held a vigil at 3:15 p.m. which is the time Damion was declared dead from gunshot wounds to the heart and lung. Damion was shot just a block and half away from his home. At the time of the shooting, Wheeler said all of the neighbors on the street were at home, and many of them were outside at the time, but nobody ever came forward as a witness.

“That’s not snitching,” Wheeler said. “That’s saying I have a mother, daughter, son, father, and I don’t want anyone walking up and killing them and not knowing who did it.”

Wheeler had been holding an annual vigil for her son but stopped when she moved away. This is the first year she’s been back in Fort Wayne, so her and her grandson planned another candlelight vigil. Damion’s son is now eight-years-old. He’s never met his father because he was born two weeks after his death. Even though it’s a cold case, Wheeler said she knows who killed her son. She said she knew the family well, and the father of her son’s murderer even came forward and apologized for what his son did.

“I didn’t have peace until I decided to forgive his son for shooting my son,” Wheeler said. “He was my only son. I love him I miss him all the time.”

Wheeler said the man who she believes killed her son was shot and killed by police after he shot a U.S. Marshal in 2012. She said that’s given her some peace in the case, but it still doesn’t bring her son back. However, she did present a plaque to Fort Wayne Police Chief Garry Hamilton on Saturday to say thank you to the department for all the work they did on her son’s case.

“We want to encourage mothers, let them know we are here for them,” Chief Hamilton said. “They may lose their loved ones, but we still care.”

Members of the police department have been meeting monthly with the prosecutor’s office to try and solve some of the other cold cases in the system.

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