As people celebrate Thanksgiving with their families Thursday, some who lost a loved one to gun violence this year are marking their first holiday without them.
News4JAX records show in 2022, there have been 148 homicides. Of those, 117 are murders.
Darnell Wilson Sr., 44, was shot and killed inside his Sherwood Forest home in February.
Wilson’s sister, Melanese, said she has not been able to get into the holiday spirit because the person who killed her brother is still out there. She wants people to know what kind of person he was -- and how he’s missed.
Melanese Wilson is by no means a Seminoles fan, but she surrounded herself with garnet and gold in memory of her brother.
“It’s bleeding in my soul right now because I have to do this,” she said as she said her memories with News4JAX. “He’s a Florida State fan to his heart. I have to represent it for him because he’s not here anymore.”
Like many families who experienced loss this year, Wilson and her loved ones are marking their first Thanksgiving without Darnell.
They are left with a memorial blanket -- and a lifetime of family pictures.
Wilson said the loss has been especially hard on her grandchildren.
“She says, ‘I want to go to Darnell’s house. Can we go to Darnell’s house?’ To go play, and that was my parents’ house. They used to go there, play in the yard, play in the back yard, in and out all day, wrestling with my brother. They can’t do none of that,” Melanese Wilson said.
That very home where those happy memories were made is where Wilson was found murdered nine months ago.
“I put a smile on my face to cover, but deep down inside, I’m crushed. I miss him so much,” Melanese Wilson said.
As she waits for answers, Wilson holds on to precious memories -- and hope.
“Everybody knows my brother. They knew what type of person he was. Keep those memories and keep us in prayer,” she said.
Anyone with information on who killed Darnell Wilson Sr. or if you can help police resolve any unsolved crimes, call the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office at 904-630-0500 or CrimeStoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS.