Reporting Pat Loeb
By Pat Loeb
CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS) — Camden ended 2012 with a record 67 homicides, making it the most dangerous city in America, according to the FBI. The old record, of 58 homicides, set in 1995, inspired an annual New Year’s Eve vigil for victims, which continued on Monday at Camden’s cathedral.
There have never been so many candles lined up in the cathedral, the list of victims’ names has never spilled off the altar before — the little signs of a very big problem.
“I think that having 67 murders in the city of Camden this year is really devastating,” says Sister Helen Coles.
Coles prayed for peace with each candle she lit for a victim, on the hour, from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
The vigil began Friday and ended Monday evening. Family members of the victims often joined for the hour their loved one was honored. Janice Thomas says it was some comfort to pray for her son Stephen, 18-years-old when he was found shot to death in September, the year’s 48th victim.
“I lost a part of my heart, my soul, when he passed,” Thomas says. “Just senseless, I don’t know why.”
Community members drifted in and out, as well, including police chief Scott Thomson.
“Our city is grieving right now,” Thomson says. “We’re in desperate need of healing. This lets the people of our community know we grieve with them and we’re doing our best to keep the next murder from occurring.”