Shining light on a dark issue: Candlelight vigil remembers Tammy Howland

Valley Oasis held a candlelight vigil Thursday in memory of Tammy Howland.

LANCASTER – On Monday, Aug. 24, 2009, 34-year-old Tammy Howland was found dead in her Lake Los Angeles home. In the weeks that followed, heinous details emerged about her death – her hands were bound and a plastic bag was taped over her head, her teenage son had discovered her body, and her husband, Kenneth David Howell, was responsible. These details kept the community talking. But two years later, advocates for domestic violence victims fear the community may have moved on from Tammy Howland.

Michelle Flanagan leads the group in reciting a call to action to end domestic violence.

“Somebody lost their life and nobody remembers it,” said Carol Crabson, CEO of Valley Oasis, a community-based organization that offers services to domestic violence victims.

To remind the community of Tammy Howland and others like her, Valley Oasis held a candle vigil in Howland’s honor Thursday on The BLVD.

“She was here and she was important,” said Valley Oasis Board Member, Michelle Flanagan. “She was important to her five children, she was important to the community, and she was taken from the world way too soon.”

As part of the vigil, attendees lit candles and held them while reciting a page-long call to action about ridding the community of fear and violence.

“Violence has no place in the home, our neighborhoods or our community. We have to reach out to help those who suffer. And we must remember those who have fallen…” the group recited.

Thursday’s event was the first vigil held by Valley Oasis, but the organization has quietly served the community for 31 years.

“We have 18 programs, including our Sexual Assault Response Service Program; our Homeless Solutions Access Center; our Child Abuse Treatment Center; and our Domestic Violence Shelter Transitional Housing Program,” said Crabson. “We’re a quiet agency in the community because what we do, we can’t publicize; we have to think of the safety of our clients.”

This year Valley Oasis decided to begin holding vigils in memory of domestic violence victims to bring about public awareness in a very personal way.

“We want to use Tammy as an example… she lived, she gave life, it was taken away from her, and we can’t forget her, we owe that to her,” said Crabson. “The community needs to band together to fight domestic violence because it’s here in our community and we need help to help it go away.”

Xavier Flores (left) said vigils in memory of domestic violence victims helps to bring about community awareness.

Xavier Flores heard about the vigil only hours earlier, but immediately decided he had to attend.

“I remembered reading about her (Tammy Howland’s) case,” said Flores. “I wanted to kill the guy who did it…it was so heinous, so ugly what he did.”

Flores said Thursday’s gathering, though small, could make a huge impact in the fight against domestic violence.

“There are about 15 people here,” said Flores. “If there were 15 people to stand up for every single person that’s experienced domestic violence, imagine where we’d be.”

If you, or someone you know, have experienced domestic violence, Valley Oasis can help. Contact 661-945-5509.