WILMINGTON, N.C. — Eighteen years ago, Talana Kreeger was brutally sexually assaulted and murdered in a vicious hate crime here. The painful memory of that tragic event has been held in silence in this Coastal community — until now.
Talana Kreeger, 32, was raped and murdered by Ronald Sheldon Thomas (pictured right) in Wilmington, N.C., on Feb. 22, 1990.
Community members gathered into a packed sanctuary at St. Jude’s Metropolitan Community Church on Feb. 22 to remember and celebrate Kreeger’s life. They came to express the need to answer the questions of why Talana Kreeger was murdered and why the community had been silent about such a brutal and passionate crime of hate.
Kreeger, 32, was murdered by truck driver Ronald Sheldon Thomas on Feb. 22, 1990, after leaving Park View Grill, a lesbian establishment, where they drank and played pool. Kreeger was remembered as fun-loving, loved and free-spirited.
The memorial service allowed community members to express the need to start the process of healing within the gay community and come together to fight for stronger hate crime legislation in North Carolina and nationwide.
The gathering was organized by Tab Ballis, director of “Park View,” a documentary-in-progress about Kreeger’s murder. He hoped the memorial would provide healing for individuals who knew her personally. Film clips of “Park View” were shown between speakers including Kristen Dempsey, Lynette Miller, Frank Harr, Ken Cox, Scott Whisnant and state Rep. Pricey Harrison (D-Guilford).
Miller, Kreeger’s friend, told the audience how Talana freed spiders when she encountered them and wanted to let them live instead of killing them. Miller emphasized that Kreeger was a lover of all animals and a generous and giving friend to anyone who knew her.
The Rev. Amanda McCullough led the lamentation and prayer for affirmation in hope that the community would continue to honor Kreeger’s life as well as the dedication of a memorial plaque to be placed at St. Jude’s.
The church is also is establishing a memorial fund in honor of Kreeger and other victims of hate crimes. Money specifically donated to the Talana Kreeger Memorial Fund will be used to establish a special prayer garden.
Various speakers from the community also related their stories and thoughts, including local lesbian author Cheryl Cushine, gay leader and activist Bo Dean, Director of the Rape Crisis Center Amy Feath and New Hanover County District Attorney Ben David.
Ronald Sheldon Thomas
Dean expressed passionately the need for the gay community to address its internal divisions, and urged everyone to come together and unite in the fight against hatred. Laura McClain, a local lesbian singer/songwriter who is also an associate producer and music director for “Park View,” performed selected songs including “We are a Gentle Angry People” and “Left for Dead” — written in Kreeger’s memory.
info: For more information on the development of “Park View,” and more on Talana Kreeger’s life, visit www.parkviewproject.com. Donations to the memorial fund to honor Talana Kreeger and other victims of hate crimes may be made to: Talana Kreeger Memorial Fund (c/o St. Jude’s Metropolitan Community Church), 19 N. 26th St., Wilmington, N.C., 28405. Bambi Weavil is the president/CEO of Out Impact, an LGBT-focused online magazine based in Wilmington, N.C. Learn more at www.outimpact.com.