In what started as a somber, dark night five days after 34-year-old Jackie Craine was gunned down near her Fort Mill home, hundreds lit up the night in Lancaster to honor her memory.
And in an even more noble gesture, family and friends of Craine gathered at her mother's home, more than 300 people in the front yard by candlelight, in hopes that no other woman will fall victim to domestic violence. Craine's ex-boyfriend is accused of killing her and wounding her oldest son, following months of Craine, mother of three, fearing for her safety.
Craine's cousin, Ruthie Holmes, who is godmother to Craine's oldest son, spoke for all of those in attendance when she said, "If us gathering here in Jackie's memory saves another young lady, or even a young man, from the terror of domestic violence, we have done a great thing here tonight."
Craine, originally from Lancaster but a resident of Fort Mill for about three years, was shot by her ex-boyfriend, James Enrico Diago, 38, as she sat in her sport utility vehicle Thursday morning at the Avery Lake apartments just around the corner from her home, police said. Police said Diago also wounded Craine's oldest son, 16, with a shot through the boy's knee. Diago, also originally from Lancaster, remains jailed after he was arrested on murder, weapons, and other charges. Diago has past convictions for assaulting women.
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In just the past six months, Craine had twice called police in Fort Mill to seek help after trouble with Diago. Family members said that as recently as New Year's weekend, she had spoken of being fearful for her safety at Diago's hands, and a cousin said that Craine told her Diago pulled a gun on Craine over the Thanksgiving holiday.
One family friend who spoke Tuesday night, Lynn Wade, described the killing of Craine as "truly senseless violence. A mother is gone."
The vigil Thursday night in honor of Craine, a 1996 Lancaster High School graduate, was organized to remember her life and love as a mother of children ages 16, 13, and 4.
"Jackie was a woman whose first priority was her children," said Tia Boulware, a cousin the same age as Craine who grew up alongside her. "She was committed to her children having opportunities in life, getting sound educations, having futures."
Another lifelong friend, Charmaine Crane-Moffatt, described Jackie Craine as "a truly giving spirit who cared about others before herself."
The funeral for Craine, who worked as a hairdresser and had recently finished advanced training in massage therapy with hopes to open her own spa business, is today at 2 p.m. in Lancaster.
The killing is York County's first homicide of 2012, yet because of Craine's connections to her hometown of Lancaster as well as Great Falls and Richburg, the killing stunned people from all three counties and brought hundreds together Tuesday.
So many, family and friends and schoolmates alike, spoke about Craine's commitment to her children and urged any woman who might feel in danger to seek help and protection. And in that dark front yard, as traffic drove by slowly, dozens of people let balloons rise up into the night sky.
People said Jackie Craine's spirit was like that - always lifting others.
Her cousin and lifelong friend Boulware put it this way: "We have to remember the life that she lived, the beauty of her life and how she worked so hard. Her life mattered; her mark on this world was a great and magical mark. Her legacy can't just be the terrible, violent way she died."