LYNCHBURG, Va. – Tuesday marked one year since the brutal murder of Raymond Wood. Five suspected MS-13 gang members are facing charges in the case.
Raymond Wood’s family members released 18 purple balloons to celebrate the 17-year old's life.
The one-year anniversary of Wood's death drew friends like Kimberly Vencill and Selena Demecio to the memorial on Roaring Run Road to pay their respects.
"It's nice to come here and connect with him. I keep his memorial card on my dashboard in my car. I feel him,” Vencill said.
The pain of the teen's death is still very real.
"I don't even say that he died. I say that he got murdered, 'cause that's what it was. He shouldn't have gotten murdered at such a young age. He was doing things with his life. He was getting ready to be an adult,” Demecio said.
Since his death, family members have posted videos and pictures on Facebook. One showed his mother and brother celebrating his favorite holiday ... Halloween... Without him.
Another showed his family releasing white balloons for his 18 year-old birthday this past summer.
In a statement to 10 news Wood's family says, "This past year has been the hardest year for our family, losing Raymond in the most horrific way." They added, “It has been excruciatingly painful not having his energy, presence and love around."
Wood had plans to graduate high school this year and enlist in the marine corps like his uncle.
"Raymond was really cared about. Not just by friends, or by people at Heritage. But his family loved him a lot. Everyone that knew Raymond fell in love with him."
The commonwealth attorney says the case is expected to move forward this spring.
Below is the full statement from Raymond Wood’s family:
“This past year has been the hardest year for our family, losing Raymond in the most horrific way. Raymond was full of life and was always surrounded by love. He was looking forward to his future, graduating high school and enlisting into the Marine Corps like his Uncle. He always enjoyed all the family vacations with us. And most of all he loved his cousins and nieces and nephews. Raymond's caring heart and personality were not hard to miss and were evident in every hug he gave. It has been excruciatingly painful not having his energy, presence and love around.”