Newspapers Remember the Local Lives That Were Extinguished

A pair of powerful front-page stories.

It’s a powerful way, at the turn of a new year, to frame the topic of homicide: remind readers, chronologically, of the community residents whose lives were violently extinguished the previous year.


For Gannett’s Daily Advertiser in Lafayette, La., reporter Seth Dickerson concentrated this weekend on death by gun violence. His list includes a pair of victims from the Trainwreck movie theater shooting:

Jillian Johnson
Mayci Breaux

Ages: 33 and 21
Died: July 23

Breaux and Johnson died in a shooting at the Grand 16 Theatre, an event that rocked Lafayette this summer.

John Russel Houser stood up from his seat during a showing of the romantic comedy Trainwreck and opened fire on the crowd of moviegoers before turning the gun on himself as Lafayette Police and other agencies arrived on the scene.

Breaux was killed on the scene, and Johnson died in the hospital. Nine others were injured in the shooting.


In Pennsylvania’s Erie Times-News, Ed Palattella led off a remembrance of victims of homicide with a man whose name – Paris B. Hilton – was often a frequent source of amusement:

As for his name, which he shared with the famous 34-year-old female socialite from Beverly Hills, Calif., Hilton, 63, was less prone to argue than he was to chuckle.

“He took it as a joke,” [his brother Steve] Lee said. “He laughed that he was older than her. When he said his name was Paris Hilton, people would laugh at him, like OK.”

Hilton was killed the afternoon of Jan. 7, 2015. One of his housemates, Sandra Gray, punched him in the head at the small residence in the 300 block of West 18th Street, where Hilton’s common-law wife was also staying.

Erie police said Hilton, who had health problems, died from head injuries he suffered when he fell backward after suffering the blow.

Gray, 45, had a prior record for prostitution and had been using crack cocaine and drinking all day before she struck Hilton, authorities said. She said she hit Hilton when he tried to grope her – a claim his family called untrue.

Some of the other profiles of 2015 homicide victims in Palattella’s piece were contributed by other reporters.