Heart statue honoring Martin's shooting victims unveiled

ELKHART, Ind. -- A touching tribute stands in front of the Elkhart Martin’s store where two women were killed during a January shooting.

On Thursday, the Elkhart General Hospital Foundation unveiled one of its painted hearts, decorated with the words “love”, “hope”, and “unity.” The statue was painted by artist Carrie Beachey and will serve as a permanent memorial to 20-year-old Krystle Dikes and 44-year-old Rachelle Godfread.

“I felt like the words on the heart were perfect,” said Krystle’s mother, Juanita Whitacre. “Love, hope, unity. This whole event has given a lot of people hope.”

Several of Krystle’s family members attended the unveiling ceremony and were deeply moved by the gesture.

“It’s just very overwhelming,” said her stepmother, Charlotte Dikes. “We are deeply honored. And, that’s insufficient what I’m saying.”

The heart pays tribute to the two women, but also serves as a reminder of the kindness the community displayed in the wake of the tragedy.

Hundreds of shirts displaying the message “Elkhart Strong” were printed and sold shortly after the shooting, raising money for the victims’ families.

“I guess I didn’t know there were this many nice people around,” Charlotte said. “And, caring people. Elkhart is a city with a heart.”

Krystle’s family says she would have loved the statue. She was a fan of art and all things purple.

“Every time I drive by, which will be every day, I will see it and think of her,” Whitacre said.

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