ST. MARY’S COUNTY, Md. – St. Mary’s County remembered those lost to homicide at the 19th Annual Silent Angel Memorial on Tuesday morning. But this year, things looked very different.

Normally, loved ones come together to hang ornaments engraved with the names of those they’ve lost on the Silent Angel Christmas tree. However, due to COVID-19 restrictions, this year’s ceremony was streamed online. 

Chaplain Larry Crabtree read the names of 86 victims while St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office Fiscal Specialist Kathy Kreps carefully hung each ornament on the tree.

Chaplain Crabtree said the holidays are especially difficult when families have suffered a loss and that this year may be especially hard. “I began this memorial with greetings of Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. But let’s be honest, all of us know deep down that not all is merry and not all is bright in this world. Perhaps not inside of us. Some Christmases are more deeply filled with burdens and weighted down.”

Angels Symbolize Hope

The Silent Angel Memorial was founded back in 2002 by Eileen Bildman after her son Kevin was murdered the previous year. 

Chaplain Crabtree said, “The silent angels symbolize hope, goodness, purity, protection, comfort, and consolation.”  Hoped the memorial would allow friends and family a chance to express their profound feelings of loss.”

The chaplain noted that the original Christmas story does not ignore pain and loss. “”So perhaps this holiday season is a very fitting time to honor those that we’ve lost.”

After a brief prayer, he solemnly read off the names of victims dating back to the 1970s while Ms. Kreps placed the ornament honoring the victim on the tree. By the time he finished, the once empty tree was filled with angels.