BANGOR, Maine — About 200 mourners surrounded the family of 15-month-old Damien Christopher Lynn during a candlelight vigil held in his memory on Tuesday at Cascade Park.
Family, friends and those who did not know the toddler but who were touched by his tragic death spoke of love and of support for victims of abuse.
Jay Cochran, a cousin of the slain boy’s mother, Cheryl Metzger, stood before the crowd, his voice trembling with emotion, to say he had never met Damien Lynn.
“I thought I had plenty of time to meet my little cousin,” he said. “Caskets should not come in that size.”
The toddler was unresponsive and had broken bones, head injuries and a human bite mark on his right arm when rescue crews responded to a 911 call at the Bald Mountain Drive home he shared with his 22-year-old mother.
The mother was at the hospital with abdominal pains when Edgard Anziani, 27, of Lawrence, Mass., Metzger’s boyfriend, handed him over to an ambulance crew about 7 a.m. Feb. 23. The boy “was blue and not breathing,” according to police, and was pronounced dead at the hospital an hour later. Bangor police have since charged Anziani with his murder.
Joanne Francis, Cheryl’s mother, sent out her love to her daughter, the boy’s father, Patrick Lynn, of Georgia, who was in the crowd, and to “my little Mr. Man,” which was her nickname for her grandson.
“I still can’t believe you’re gone,” Francis’ boyfriend, Dennis McCurdy, said of the toddler, who loved to smile and dance in front of a mirror.
Cheryl Metzger held a specially made candle that had her son’s name written on the side as she walked, surrounded by a group of about 20 relatives and friends, through the crowd to a display that featured four photos of her son, candles and a floral arrangement with Calla lilies. The crowd seemed to create a protective barrier around her as she listened to people talk about her son.
She had her sister, Antoinette Ashmore, speak for her.
“If you didn’t know Damien, he was a good little boy,” Ashmore said. “He came into their world early and was taken out too early.”
Ashmore said her sister is surviving thanks to the love and support of family and friends.
“She’s going second by second, and that’s all she can do right now,” she said.
The message Ashmore and others in the crowd stressed was to cherish every moment — life is precious.
“If you have little ones … hug them, kiss them, love them because you don’t know what tomorrow can bring,” she said.
Damien Lynn was lovingly called “Dbug” by his parents and had just learned to say “Mumma.”
The murder suspect left Maine on Feb. 25, just hours before police charged him with Damien Lynn’s murder. He made it as far as Bladensburg, Md., before being caught by the FBI on March 1.
Anziani told police, Metzger and her family that her son was injured in the early morning hours of Feb. 23 when he fell down a flight of stairs at Metzger’s apartment.
The boy’s autopsy, however, determined that his injuries “could not be explained by a simple fall down six or seven steps.”
An FBI affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Bangor provides evidence that Anziani has a history of assaulting children.
“Anziani had severely beaten [his son] in 2004 to the point where [his son] was admitted to the hospital and … still has complications resulting from that incident,” it states.
Bangor police detectives left the city on Monday for Maryland and are expected to take custody of Anziani today to bring him back to Maine to face charges, police Sgt. Chip Hodges said Tuesday night.
Many at the vigil said they were survivors of abuse and they stressed the need for the violence to stop. A woman from Fort Kent, who traveled to Bangor for the vigil with her husband, said it’s up to people to lift the veil that abuse hides behind.
“Feel it, see it, report it,” she said. “This has to stop.”
Community members Leslie Collagen and Marissa Ouelette organized the vigil, which was supported by Spruce Run.
Before Cochran left the front of the crowd, he thanked all who attended the memorial for his nephew.
“It’s extremely overwhelming that everybody showed up,” Cochran said. “It means a lot.”
The night ended with the crowd slowly passing by Metzger and Lynn, and their family members, giving hugs and offering words of encouragement.