At the end of Rosemont Road in Appling is a cemetery, nestled quietly away from the road, in a clearing behind 2nd Mt. Caramel Baptist Church.
It's where Roosevelt "Dick" Burns, Rheba Mae Dent, Trequilla Clark-Thurmond, and Lizzy and Shelly Williams, known as The Appling 5, were laid to rest one year ago, Saturday.
April 22, 2016, marks the day that all five relatives were tragically shot and killed by a family member. But while the hurt is still very real, the family is making an effort to remember their loved ones for the good memories they have, not the tragic way they were taken. A family memorial and balloon release is planned in honor of The Appling 5, whose roots that connect them all, run deep and strong.
"On Saturday, we are going to get together to have prayer and have a scripture and a couple people are going to speak and then we are going to release the balloons. We want to keep it kind of low key but family and friends are invited to come," said Selethia McCladdie Walker, one of Dick Burns' daughters. "I wanted to keep my daddy and the Appling 5's memory alive. It's tragic the way they went, but it's hard for all of us."
All five relatives lived on or very near McCladdie Drive, which was named for the family that lived on the Appling street for more than five decades.
"My daddy was my everything. My auntie Reba was just like my momma," Walker said. "Every Sunday I was over there visitng her and my daddy would meet me over there and we'd sit down and talk with her, me, daddy and Killa."
Walker said some aspects of that day she doesn't remember after she received the news from her mother that her beloved father had been killed.
"I saw Lizzy at the funeral home, she gave me a hug and a big smile, and everybody carried on and we went on home, but before I could get home and sit down my momma was calling me and telling me what happened," Walker said as tears welled in her eyes, while she recalled the night one year ago. "The only thing I could hear was, ‘Wayne shot your daddy, your daddy is gone.' I just dropped right there. When I got there I didn't know it was the rest of them too. I relive that moment every night."
Walker said that Trequilla Clark-Thurmond, 31, was engaged and set to be married in October. Walker said she was buried in her wedding dress and her married name of Thurmond was added to her headstone. Trequilla is buried next to her mother, who was killed in a car accident when she was very young. Walker recalled Trequilla as a very sweet girl.
Walker said she was also taking her father's death hard.
"It took my life. I try to cover it up so my mom won't see me, but me and my daddy were just like two peas in a pod," Walker said. "I would call him every night, every morning. And I miss him so much."
Walker said Burns was an adoring father and grandfather and her mother's soulmate of 55 years.
"He enjoyed fishing and hunting, he was an all around good daddy. I got 51 good years. I didn't want for anything," Walker said of her father. "He never wanted to quit work, he retired and went back to work and then he stopped working and then worked around the neighborhood and he helped remodel some houses, fix things around the houses, he was known for that."
Walker said that the family struggles with the pain everyday after the loss of so many family members so quickly.
"The neighborhood is just so dark, it's not like it used to be. They say time heals, but hopefully it will get better as time goes by," Walker said. "It seems like it's been a lifetime. Sometimes counseling helps sometimes it doesn't. The only thing I can do is pray, just keep praying and we ask everybody to just keep praying for us as we go."
Walker said someone pays a visit to the five graves behind 2nd Mt. Caramel Church at least once a week. Her son Nick, recently shot his first buck of the season, just like his grandfather taught him, and Walker said Nick put the shell casing at Burns' graveside. Burns' grave is adorned with pinwheels, flowers, his favorite Atlanta Braves baseball hat, and the baseball from Walker's son's little league baseball team he coaches, that recently won the world series.
Walker said that her family's tragic loss was a blow to the entire area.
"It just didn't hit us, it hit the whole CSRA, because these people touched somebody. Like Mrs. Lizzy, she worked at Augusta Tech and she touched so many lives," Walker said.
But Walker said some days are better than others.
"I have sleepless nights, I've been through counseling. My mom is taking it really hard and I'm trying to be strong for her," Walker said. "Some people walk up to me and say that they're in a better place. To me, a better place is sitting in the chair watching TV with the family. But nobody can tell anybody how to grieve or how long to grieve."
Walker said the church plans to dedicate a plaque in honor of The Appling 5. It's the quiet remembance she believes they would have appreciated and a way to honor their memory the way Walker said she wants them to be, as the loving, caring people that they were.
And as for the anniversary, Walker said she hopes the memorial will renew their hope for healing as a family, in honor of The Appling 5.
"I hope this memorial brings us back togeher. It's not one, it's all. We need all the prayers we can get," Walker said. "And I try to live my daddy's legacy and walk in his shoes and do the right thing and just keep pushing."