Loved ones remember Woonsocket murder victim and call for change

WOONSOCKET, R.I. (WLNE) — It was an emotional evening Saturday, as family and friends of Tanya Gagnon remembered her life with a vigil in Barry Memorial Park.

“My sister had so much more life to give, and I don’t want her to be just a statistic,” said Tami Gagnon. “I want everybody to know her for who she was.”

The 44-year-old Woonsocket woman was described as caring and selfless, working with people with special needs for 27 years.

“She was a very giving person, and didn’t want anything in return,” said close friend Shana Moreau.

That light was extinguished in June, when police say her boyfriend, Charles Johnson, murdered her right before killing himself at the home they shared on Social Avenue in Woonsocket.

The news was a shock even to those who knew her best.

“Hard to believe,”: Moreau said. “Never would’ve thought that in a million years. I wish I knew, so I could’ve helped her.”

As family and friends remembered her life, they say it’s also an important opportunity to spread awareness of domestic violence.

Attendees were wearing purple, the color of domestic violence awareness, and some holding signs with powerful messages — including domestic violence survivors themselves.

“Always try to reach out to people,” advised close friend Trisha Palin. “And if one person don’t respond, keep going. Someone’s eventually going to hear you, and help you through it.”

Someone like Tanya’s sister Tami, who started a group called Behind Closed Doors in order to help prevent domestic violence.

“If we can help someone through the group, that’s my mission,” said Tami Gagnon. “Can’t stop, won’t stop. That’s the only way to get justice for my sister.”

Rhode Island’s 24-hour Victims of Crime helpline is 1-800-494-8100.

Categories: News, Regional News, Rhode Island