300 Attend Vigil
For Missing People
Debbie Sexton, left, and Susan Levy, right, are among the 300 people with photographs and posters of their missing loved ones marching down I Street in Modesto toward Graceada Park during the fourth annual Vigil of Hope Saturday afternoon.
JOAN BARNETT LEE/THE BEE
By ZEKE MINAYA
BEE STAFF WRITER
More than 300 people gathered under a gray sky in Modesto on Saturday to help heal the wounds of losing a loved one or offer hope to those close to someone who is missing.
At 12:30 p.m., those milling about the Stanislaus County Courthouse formed for the fourth annual Carole Sund-Carrington Memorial Reward Foundation's Vigil of Hope march to Graceada Park.
Several people wore T-shirts emblazoned with photographs of their victimized loved one as they marched from the Victims' Garden to the park. Others held signs with messages they wish they could personally deliver.
Faces familiar to those who watch television news could be seen among the marchers. Their names have made newspaper headlines worldwide over the past four years.
Francis and Carole Carrington, parents of Carole Sund and grandparents of 15-year-old Julie Sund, were in the crowd. They organized the event four years ago and have marched each year. Their daughter and granddaughter, along with 16-year-old Silvina Pelosso of Cordoba, Argentina, were slain in 1999 while on a sightseeing trip to Yosemite.
Susan Levy carried a photograph of her daughter, Chandra. The federal Bureau of Prisons intern from Modesto was 24 when she disappeared in Washington, D.C., more than 10 months ago. Her name has become known internationally because of her relationship with Rep. Gary Condit.
Not famous, but still hurting
There were others marching Saturday whose names are not as well known. April Dutra of Stockton attended because her 20-year-old niece, Chastity Cogo, was last seen in January.
"It's hard. It's really hard for us," she said. "We have hope and the belief she is OK. We don't want to believe the worst."
Mario Moreno was there for his brother Henry, who was last seen in 1998.
"I'm glad to see such a turnout," said Moreno, one of several members present from Wings of Protection, a support group founded by Levy and Donna Raley, stepmother of Modestan Dena Raley McCluskey, who disappeared in 1999.
Levy and McCluskey received the annual Sund-Carrington Foundation Award for their work.
"There's an awful lot of us out there that need help," Levy told the crowd, after announcing Wings of Protection will open a Los Angeles chapter.
Georgette and Jesus Sanchez traveled from Campbell to join the vigil. Their daughter, Jeanine Sanchez-Harms, has been missing since July 27. On the back of their matching white T-shirts was a message for the youngest of their three children: "Jeanine we love you and want you back."
Stanislaus County Sheriff Les Weidman and Modesto Police Chief Roy Wasden joined the march, as did other members of law enforcement.
Along with Weidman and Wasden, guest speakers included Modesto City Councilwoman Kenni Friedman and District Attorney James Brazelton.
Booths were set up in the park where people offered advice, educational materials and hope.
The true guests of honor of the Vigil of Hope were not there physically Saturday. But the missing and victimized loved ones were there in the hearts of everyone.
March 10, 2002 Posted: 07:20:05 AM PST.