A necklace is all that’s left of Lily Centino’s son, Carlos. Hunters found his body in 2001 by a shooting range in Perris. Someone shot him execution style. He would have been 34 years old this month. But instead of grieving, his mother is reaching out to other people who lost loved ones. She’s leading the new Coachella Valley chapter of ‘Families and Friends of Murder Victims.’
“God is nudging me and he says, ‘Lily, it’s time to give back.’ He says, ‘They’re giving to you and for your son now it’s time for you to give back to others,'” said Centino
There are chapters all over the state. Until recently, local members drove to Riverside for meetings. Now, the group will meet once a month at the Palm Desert library. The group is sponsored by the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office. They’ll have victims advocates at the meetings for survivors who want information on their court cases. The group wants to provide as much help as possible because the meetings can be too much for some to handle.
“I know I went to my first meeting and didn’t go back for 4 months. Because it just brings everything back but you eventually know you belong there because everyone there is in the same shoes as you are,” said Rose Madsen.
She’s will help Centino organize the meetings. Madsen’s daughter died in 1994. Police caught the killer and prosectors put him behind bars. But, Centino continues to wait for justice. Her son’s case went cold 9 years ago. But, this January, Governor Schwarzenegger offered a $50,000 reward and the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office paid for several roadside billboards. Centino hopes someone will come forward soon. But, until then she’s keeping the memory of her son close to her heart as she tries to help other people with heavy hearts.
“We’ve been through it, we know how to talk to you, we know what it feels like, we know what it takes. It never goes away but it makes it better,” said Centino.