JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – One of thousands of men and women who took to the streets of Jacksonville Monday to honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had marched with his American Legion post in previous parades. This year, Mario Peterson was marching with a special purpose: to highlight the unsolved murders of his granddaughter, her fiancé and their baby girl.
Peterson said it was a bittersweet day as he put on his uniform and headed downtown. Peterson's 19-year-old granddaughter Ariyan Johnson, 20-year-old Quesean Trotter, and their infant daughter, Arielle, were killed inside an Arlington home last month.
"I was happy that we’re celebrating MLK Day, but I was just sad that I know that if (my granddaughter) were still alive, she would be a part of this parade with me," Peterson said.
The triple murder has torn apart the lives of two families and made this year’s parade hit closer to home.
"It’s definitely a void there, just watching everyone pass by hoping to see her and knowing that you’re not going to see her. It’s hurts; it definitely hurts," said T.J. Stringfield, Johnson's cousin.
"That’s just the saddest part: not seeing her, not having her here, seeing her gone," Peterson said. "It’s just a terrible burden I’ll be carrying for the rest of my life.
Through posters, flowers, and T-shirts, Peterson and Stringfield want to bring justice for Johnson, Arielle and Trotter. They’re hoping to keep the peace that Martin Luther King Jr. fought for and end the violence in Jacksonville.
Anyone who knows anything about this crime is asked to call police or Crime Stoppers at 866-845-TIPS.