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Candlelight vigil for slain mother and son focuses on their lives

Family and friends of a mother and son who were killed in 2016 stood in a light rain on Oct. 19 to mark their deaths and remind everyone not to dwell in sadness.

“What I think makes me most sad about their passing is just the loss of potential and possibility,” said Lynn Kalnins, principal of the Chana Education Center where Maggie was employed.

Margaret “Maggie” Meyer and her 3-year-old son Amos died Oct. 19, 2016 following a fire at their Byron home which investigators say was intentionally set.

Maggie’s ex-husband and Amos’ father, Duane Meyer, 37, of Stillman Valley, has been charged with their murders and aggravated arson. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Emergency crews arrived the Meyer home at 2020 N. Silverthorn Drive just after 6:30 a.m. to find the house consumed by a fire that was later determined to be deliberately set.

Maggie, 31, was found dead on a couch on the first floor of her burning home, and Amos, 3, was pronounced dead a short time later at Rockford Memorial Hospital.

Saturday night organizers spoke briefly to the crowd and thanked law enforcement officials for their work on the case.

“The lesson that Maggie has left us is that we will not dwell in the sadness and darkness of what happened,” Kalnins said.

Katherine Pearce, the mother of one of Maggie’s closest friends, said the focus of family and friends should be remembering Maggie’s and Amos’ legacies.

“We want to continue to be that force of love for each other and remember to live life and be learning, laughing, loving. We need to live out their love in their light in honor of Maggie and Amos,” she said. “Every time the sun shines let’s think of Maggie and Amos. They are in the palm of God’s hand and they want us to know that all is OK.”

A portion of a statement on the Maggie & Amos Foundation Facebook said:

“We have been asked if we had a statement to share of our thoughts on the recent arrest of the subject charged in the murders of Maggie and Amos. This has been a long awaited moment for family and friends who have endured almost three years of heartache and loss following their deaths. This moment is bittersweet. For while justice may be served and questions may now be answered, we are still left with the sadness of knowing that they are no longer with us.

“When we first established The Maggie & Amos Foundation, we emphasized that we wanted Maggie & Amos to be remembered for how they lived their lives and not for how they died. We vowed that we would continue their legacy of kindness and giving to others in their names. We continue to aspire to hold true to this. So for our statement, we would like to share with you a few things about Maggie and Amos that compel us to work so hard to keep their memories alive.

“Maggie was a fun-loving, laugh-seeking, sass-backing, one-of-a-kind gal. She was fierce in her love for her family, friends, students, and child. A mamma bear if there ever was one. She was a mix of soft hearted and hard headed, which was a perfect complement to the children that she taught.

“Amos was all boy who inherited his mother’s goofy, yet thoughtful nature. He lived to be outside, digging in the dirt, creating paths and hills for his tractors to plow over.

“ On October 19, 2016, Maggie and Amos were cruelly taken away from us. These past three years have been spent working through our stages of grief, waiting and praying that resolution would come. We are grateful to our local law enforcement for the many hours of time spent thoroughly investigating the events that occurred that night.

“We continue to look to our local states attorney and judicial department to ensure that justice is served appropriately and with fidelity for Maggie and Amos.

“And as always, we at The Maggie & Amos Foundation promise to our community that we will continue to diligently serve you with our original intent… that the message of Maggie and Amos’s story will not be one of an unspeakable act, but one of unconditional love and goodwill to others.”