By Terry Rogers
On Tuesday, August 18, community members held a prayer vigil at Avenue United Methodist Church for the family of John G. Harmon who was killed in a home invasion on August 8, 2015. Leaders of local churches organized the vigil in order to provide support to the family and let them know the community was behind them as they worked through the tragic loss.
“We wanted to come together as a community to support this family,” said Jean Wylie, who served as principal at Benjamin Banneker Elementary School before retiring last year. “We want them to know that we have counselors, the police and community members available to help them through this, that they are not alone. We cannot bring John back, but we can help you through the struggles you are facing.” Ms. Wylie said that although she had never been through such a tragedy, she was thankful that the community was opening doors to help the family, pointing out that a member of the police department, the Mayor and some council members had turned out for the event.
Mayor Bryan Shupe thanked everyone for coming out to support the family, saying that there was nothing he could say to reduce the pain they felt. He said that he wanted them to know that the community was ready to meet their needs. Mayor Shupe said that he knew the Milford community were generous and supportive, saying that he hoped knowing that would bring them happiness and contentment in the midst of their tragedy.
Lieutenant Ed Huey of the Milford Police Department said that he had been a police officer for 29 years and through those years had been known by many titles.
“I have been called lieutenant, I have been called cop, I have been called Ed, Mr. Huey,” he said. “I have been called father, son and brother. But the one that means the most to me is to be called a child of God. I do believe that God can take away troubles and that many of the answers we seek lie in the scripture. Remember, you cannot see a rainbow unless you go through the storm.” Lt. Huey read from Romans 12, a Bible chapter that talks about not taking revenge on those who commit evil.
Mrs. Wylie said that she knew Mr. Harmon as she was originally from Ellendale. She said that his passing touched her deeply. Councilwoman Katrina Wilson, who helped arrange the vigil, said that Mr. Harmon loved his children. She talked about his 20-year old daughter who was planning to return to college in Florida soon, praising her for pursuing her dreams. Councilwoman Wilson told Mr. Harmon’s oldest sons who are 21 and 18 that they had lived through an experience that none of those present could or should ever imagine. She urged the young men to make good choices in life.
“Your dad loved you, but we cannot allow you to be penalized for his choices,” Councilwoman Wilson said. “Carry his love in your heart and move forward. Use the resources we are providing to you today to achieve your dreams, the dreams we all know your father would want you to achieve.” Anita Layfield, who worked as a teacher and school counselor in Milford School District for many years, was present at the vigil, offering her assistance to the Harmon children to help them through the tragedy. Councilwoman Wilson said that the children were going to need help after experiencing what they did the night their father died.
Ms. Layfield said that she remembered having Mr. Harmon as a student many years ago. She said that she did not know what to expect when she came to the vigil, but that as soon as she entered the room, she saw Mr. Harmon in the faces of his children.
“Your father was a very unique person,” Ms. Layfield said. “He had the most unique eyes of anyone I knew and I see his eyes in all of your faces. He gave you life and that is the greatest gift of all. I lost a son and I can tell you that something will happen five years, ten years, even fifteen years down the road and it will all come back to you. You will need love, support and help, not just in the short-term, but in the long term. After losing my son, I am amazed at what God has done over the years to keep him alive in my heart.”
According to Milford Police Department, Mr. Harmon was shot after three men broke into his home, located in the 500 block of Walnut Street, on Saturday, August 8. The investigation into Mr. Harmon’s murder is ongoing and police are not releasing any further details. Anyone with information can contact Detective Dwight Young or Lieutenant Kenneth Brown at 302-422-8081 or tips may be called into Crimestoppers at 1-800-TIP-3333.