By Izak Shapiro
The black-paved basketball court at the Winter Hill School filled up by 5 p.m. on Saturday. It was not just full of people in support of Deanna Cremin, a seventeen year-old Somerville girl murdered in March of 1995. It was full of remembrance for Deanna. Passion and spirit for her, a momentous energy, a determination and strength to keep living for her, and a unified desire for closure, to find and to sentence her killer once and for all. “Blessed are those who mourn,” those gathered were reminded early on in the ceremonies.
Deanna’s family formed the core of those in attendance, led by her mother Katherine in a spring-green jacket. Some wore shirts with “Who Killed Deanna Cremin?” on the back. Others wore shirts with “Justice for Deanna” on the front. Randy Bevins, Deanna’s close friend, reminded the crowd that Deanna aspired to work with children as children played about the adjacent playground, unaware of the gravity of the situation.
“This is a wound that will never heal,” Bevins said to the crowd, who filled more than half the basketball court. “We must band together and demand justice for Deanna.”
A colored-in map of the United States takes up part of the court, a symbol of justice next to where the children whisper-yelled down the slide. But when Jesse Klinger, leader and organizer of Walk Deanna Home, asked for the representative of the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office to say a few words on any progress made in the case recently, nobody stepped up to the podium.
The crowd did not let that moment of disappointment shadow the early evening. With spring so close, and with it being the 18th anniversary of Deanna’s death, this was a day to remember Deanna’s life, a day for hope the way she clearly inspired hope in so many others throughout her life.
“Every bit of energy creates a force that will not be denied,” said Katherine Cremin, Deanna’s mother, in the closing of the ceremony. Then it was time to walk Deanna home.
The group walked as one up Sycamore Street and to Broadway, stopping at 419 Broadway, where Deanna’s boyfriend Tommy LeBlanc used to live. Where she watched a TV show with him the night she was strangled.
“We haven’t heard from Tommy in eighteen years,” said Katherine Cremin, with no trace of anger. “And I think he has information about the last moments of her life.”
The group moved on. Leader Jesse Klinger organized chants. The chorus of “we need an answer, who killed Deanna” rhymed to perfection the way only Somerville residents could make it so, and the chorus brought heads out of apartment windows, and children onto front steps. It stopped traffic and awakened an entire neighborhood to what a lack of justice feels like.
The group moved on down the neighborhood. Someone held up a portrait of Deanna with pride. Klinger kept the crowd chanting, pointing his megaphone towards the houses lining the street, hoping someone who may have heard something that night eighteen years ago will finally end their silence.
“Somebody around here heard something,” said Katherine Cremin as the crowd stopped in front of where Deanna’s body was found. “I will not leave any stone unturned.”
The group moved on again, past figurines of Jesus and Mary in front yards, past curious onlookers and through a neighborhood Deanna once passed through every night on her way home. They stopped again at the corner of Jaques and Temple Streets, a place now called Deanna Cremin Square. She will never be forgotten.
The walk ended at 48 Jaques Street, Deanna’s old home. The female resident of the home peeked out in shock at the crowd suddenly outside of her pink house. The crowd chanted for an answer one last time before Deanna’s father, Albert Rodgers, ended the walk with a few words.
“I wish there were more police instead of this eighteen years later,” said Rodgers on the steps of Deanna’s old home looking out at those carrying his daughter’s legacy. “I am very happy with the support and love, thank you.”
With that, Deanna’s friends and family made their way to their homes or their cars, hoping their noise brought the end of the silence. Whether it does or not, Deanna still brought life to her old neighborhood, just like she did when she walked its streets.