KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Ten years after the violent kidnapping and murders of their children, the Christian and Newsom families are still fighting to have their stories heard and still fighting for justice.
The parents of Channon Christian and Chris Newsom have relived these crimes so many times, but say they never want their children to be forgotten and want to keep their story fresh in people’s minds because justice still hasn’t been served.
Mary Newsom has left Chris’s bedroom relatively untouched since his murder 10 years ago this week. Quilts have been added to his bed, made by friends following his death. Each square tells a story, like the orange and white shirt he’s seen wearing in countless photographs.
“That was Chris’s favorite orange and white shirt,” she said. It’s now sewn together as part of a tribute to their son.
Across the room in his closet sits the last load of laundry Mary Newsom washed and folded for her son. She says she can’t bear the thought of getting rid of anything and that time is not healing their pain.
“It doesn’t really heal. You think about it every day and you go through it every day. We keep his picture up around the house and talk to him every day,” she said.
All the same, they do understand life is moving on around them.More details: 10 years since Christian-Newsom murders in Knoxville
“One of the most difficult things for me is watching his friends get married, having kids, growing up, going to the weddings, wondering this should be us,” Mary Newsom said.
While the Newsoms say they don’t like to revisit the scene of the crimes in East Knoxville, Deena Christian does make a point to come by Chipman Street where her daughter’s body was found at least once a year.
“It was the worst day of my life and it’s still like it just happened yesterday,” Deena Christian said.
Like the Newsoms, Deena Christian says Channon’s room has stayed the same for the last 10 years.
“Her bookbag is still where it was when she put it down that Friday coming home from school,” she said.
However, that is about to change because Channon Christian’s parents Gary and Deena are now divorced. Deena Christian is moving out and is forced to pack up her little girl’s belongings, possibly for the final time.
“That’s going to be very difficult. I’m not sure I’m going to be able to do it. My friends are going to have to help me do that,” she said.
Timeline:Christian-Newsom murder trials
She says she still has trouble sleeping and often has nightmares about the way her daughter was killed. She says she can still see the pictures in her mind of Channon tied up in the trash can where she died. However, she says she must move forward for her son and for others, no matter how dark some days might be.
“I would just love to hear her voice, and give her a hug, and tell her I love her. I wouldn’t want her to go through the pain she went through again, but I would love to wrap my arms around her and I just don’t know if I could ever let go,” she said.
Channon’s father Gary Christian just returned to East Tennessee after getting remarried. While a lot in his life has changed, he says his fight to keep the suspects behind bars and to see the death sentence delivered to Lemaricus Davidson has not faded.
“There needs to be a time frame which that sentence is carried out, not only for the sake of justice but for taxpayers’ money. And if he’s gonna be put to death, it needs to be done,” he said.
When asked if he wanted to attend the execution, his answer was affirmative.
“Absolutely. I want look at him the whole time. I don’t want to miss nothing,” he said.
Memorials are planned for Saturday. Chris Newsom’s is at 3 p.m. at Woodhaven Memorial Gardens on Edgemoor Road. Channon Christian’s is at 5 p.m. at Highland West Memorial Park.Related: Families push for more charges for 5th person charged in Christian-Newsom case
The families also say they are continuing to seek more charges against Eric Boyd, the fifth person charged in the case, who was charged as an accessory and sentenced to 18 years in prison.