Wichita When Candice Reed asks people in Wichita if they remember how two of her cousins and two other youths were gunned down in 2000, in what at the time was the worst killing the city had seen in 27 years, she is often met with blank stares.
Reed believes that the slaying of the four black teenagers has been largely forgotten because just eight days after their deaths another quadruple homicide struck the city, but this time all the victims were white, The Wichita Eagle reported Tuesday.
Reed and other friends have dubbed the victims of the Dec. 7, 2000, shooting the "Forgotten Four." They plan a vigil Tuesday to mark the 10th anniversary of the deaths of Raeshawnda Wheaton, 18; Quincy Williams, 17; Dessa Ford, 17; and Jermaine Levy, 19.
The vigil will include the unveiling of a marker for the graves of Reed's cousins, Ford and Williams. The family raised enough money to place the marker just two months ago.
Nineteen-year-old Cornelius Oliver was convicted in the killings, and is serving a life sentence with no chance of parole until 2140. A second man was charged but acquitted in the deaths. Oliver was arrested at his brother's house the afternoon of the shootings, with blood still on his shoes. He later made a detailed confession.
Eight days after the four teens were slain, four more people were killed in a soccer field in Wichita. The case made national headlines and their killers, Jonathan and Reginald Carr, were sentenced to death.
"I talked to one member of City Council who had lived in Wichita for 33 years and didn't know what I was talking about," Reed said of her cousins' murders. "But the minute I mentioned the Carr brothers, he knew about that."
Reed said people still wonder why the second case received so much more attention than the first.
"How could one be any worse than the other, if the results were the same?" said Reed, now 29. "That's what angered me."
Prosecutor Marc Bennett said he never forgot the victims.
"I know there's been some talk that this was given second fiddle, but it never was to me," Bennett said. "It never was to the cops who worked the case. It was a big deal then, it's a big deal now."
Reed said at Oliver's trial in 2001 that she had hoped for a death sentence. But she's changed her mind.
"Before, I just hated him — now I pray for him," Reed said. "I'm glad he isn't on death row.
"Now, I have kids who are asking questions, and how do I teach them forgiveness, if I myself cannot forgive? I have forgiven him."