Ceremony honors victims of crime

By Margaret Kavanagh , Reporter
Last Updated: Sunday, April 29, 2012, 10:35 PM

When a loved one is murdered, the pain is unimaginable.  Sunday night, relatives who have suffered through the grief came together at Lake Eola for a special ceremony at the Sperry Fountain. 

They held white carnations and put a flower wreath into the lake to honor those they lost. 

Derek DeSalvia's brother, George, was an Orlando police officer murdered in the line of duty in 2000. 

“Every time we do events like this, it’s tough, it’s emotional,” said DeSalvia.

“I still live here in the city and drive by where my brother was shot all the time and I miss him and his children are grown now and life has just accelerated so fast, and time has gone by so fast, I feel like he is further and further removed every day.  It seems so unfair.”

The Oliver's son, Larry "Neal" Oliver Jr., was murdered in 1995 when he was 22 years old.

They drove from South Carolina for the event.

“To us, it is very important for us to support other people who have been in the same situation as us,” said Rebecca Oliver.

James Larson's sister was murdered in 1990. Seven years later, his wife was also murdered.

Now, he is trying to raise his daughter and said the pain is still very real. 

“My sister was murdered in Gainesville, Sonja Larson, and Carla was murdered on her lunch break and I miss them both,” said Larson.

Jeff Ashton, a former Orange County Prosecutor was on many of those cases and said he grew close to the victims' families. 

“There are three sides to a crime case.  The state, the defense and the victims, and the victims’ rights need to be respected and we are glad to be able to come out and remind people of that,” said Ashton.

Ashton was a prosecutor for more than 30 years.

Now, he is running for the State Attorney for the Ninth Judicial Circuit.

"This is the first time we’ve brought them all together and that is what was so special for me is to see them all together and have them meet each other,” said Ashton.

The following murder victims were honored: 

  • OPD Officer George DeSalvia, 29 - Murdered February 3, 2000
  • David Eldert, 21 - Murdered January 1, 1992
  • Deborah Fielding, 31 - Murdered April 5, 2000
  • Carla Larson, 30 - Murdered June 10, 1997
  • Sonja Larson, 17 - Murdered August 24, 1990
  • Larry Oliver, Jr., 22 - Murdered November 25, 1995
  • Sharon Zellers, 19 - Murdered December, 1978