Berks Women in Crisis dedicates annual Silent Witness Project to honor domestic violence victims

Victims of domestic violence honored

READING, Pa - October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. Family members and friends of those who lost their lives because of violence in Berks County gathered Thursday to honor their memories and raise awareness.

For 10 years, Berks Women in Crisis has been organizing marches as part of its Silent Witness Project to honor people who lost their lives to domestic violence.

They march in silence, holding signs and red silhouettes and remembering mothers, daughters, fathers, sons and friends who lost their lives to domestic violence. Each figure tells the story of an untimely death.

Since 2002, 44 people have been killed by domestic violence in Berks County. On Thursday, a special re-dedication ceremony was held at Reading Area Community College where the names of victims were read aloud.

One victim, Audrey Giannotti, 20, who was murdered in January 2007 while lying in bed with her two children, received justice for her death.

"Audrey's killer, Cory Vankeuren, is going to be sentenced to life in prison," said Leah Rotenberg, a domestic violence prosecutor for the district attorney's office.

Jim McGhee, brother of former Kutztown University student Christine McGhee, spoke about the pain he's endured since he lost his sister. In 2008, Christine McGhee was left in a vegetative state.

"I have her picture by my bed. I look at it every night," said Jim McGhee.

According to police reports, in 2008, McGhee was pushed out of her ex-boyfriend's truck and dragged through a Kutztown University parking lot. McGhee passed away in March. McGhee's ex-boyfriend, Michael Morrone, faces a third degree murder charge.

"Nothing is going to bring my sister back. You have to look for the red flags and act on it," said McGhee.

It is through McGhee's family's loss gives him courage to speak to other who are grieving, said McGhee, and may become inspired to live their lives to the fullest.

McGhee said he is no longer angry at his sister's accused killer.

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