Mom’s mission to honor murdered son

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HOT SPRINGS, Ark. — A Hot Springs mom is on a mission to prevent the gun violence that tore her family apart three years ago.

September 8th will forever mark when Loretta Wilder’s world shattered, the day her son Colby Wilder was found dead in a ditch. The 17-year-old had been shot multiple times.

“He’d be 21 this year and for him not to see that is kind of overwhelming,” Wilder said.

Two men, 22-year-old Stephon Harris and 25-year-old Anthony Camden face nearly 40 years in prison after taking guilty plea deals in Colby’s murder earlier this year. Both men were also charged for the murder of another man, 23-year-old Tyler Donaldson, who investigators believe was shot hours after Colby.

On Sunday, Wilder hung homemade signs along a fence at Whittington Park. Each sign had the name of someone lost to gun violence in Hot Springs since Colby’s death.

“I can’t believe I’m having to do this again,” Wilder said. “It becomes more and more unreal every year.”

Wilder started the vigil last year as part of a push to stop the violence. Through her grief, she says she gained another family in Donaldson’s relatives, who joined the vigil Sunday.

“It’s heartbreaking, I hate this time of year,” said Tyler’s sister Morgyn Donaldson. “What did my brother die for? We’ll never get those answers, it will never make sense.”

Both families say the best way they can honor their loved one’s memory, is preventing another loss to gun violence.

“Never let anyone forget what happened to them,” Wilder said.

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