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'I can’t even get into the spirit': Families of homicide victims in KCMO cope with loss during holidays

Myana Henderson and her mother
Posted at 9:45 PM, Dec 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-20 05:37:14-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — In 2022, there have been 167 homicides in Kansas City, Missouri, according to the latest data kept by the city's police department.

The number marks the second deadliest year in KCMO's history as the end of year approaches.

One of those victims was Myana Henderson, who was 21 when she was killed back in August at a gas station.

Her mother, Dawn Kopecky, says she is having a hard time without her daughter this holiday season.

“I can’t even get into the spirit without her,” Kopecky said.

For the first time, Kopecky will be holding on to the memories of Henderson.

“Thats the thing about it, there will be no more (of) what we had with her for 21 years," Kopecky said. "That's all, theres no more Myana, just memories."

The holidays are a time of year that are typically happy for Kopecky and her family, but she says this year it will be quiet without Henderson's smile and personality.

Kopecky said she's had trouble putting up decorations or ornaments on her Christmas tree, as they sit in Henderson's old room.

“It’s empty, it’s heartbreaking,” Kopecky said.

Kopecky said it's hard to imagine Henderson is part of the 167 people killed in KCMO so far this year.

That realization is something Rosilyn Temple, with KC Mothers in Charge, says says can be hard for families who lost a loved one to homicide

“That one person, what that one person's life meant to your family, or that seat and that plate at the table is going to be empty,” Temple said.

As Kopecky tries to grasp the fact that her daughter will not be home for the holidays, she’s hoping the support of family and memories of Henderson will bring her strength.

“I can use all the prayers anybody can give me because I need it," Kopecky said. “I’m not going to get anything from her, I’m not going to be able to hug her, I’m not going to be able to see her face when I buy her something, it’s just totally different.”

On Wednesday, KC Mothers in Charge, along with the Gathering Baptist Church, will be holding a prayer service and memorial to honor the lives lost in KCMO this year.

The service begins at 7 p.m at the church which is located at 4505 S Noland Road in Independence.