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Brownsburg mom fights for justice 2 years after her son's death

"I keep waiting for it to get better," Tonya Hegwood said. "But living in a world without him is complete torture."

INDIANAPOLIS — "He'll never be forgotten, ever," said Tonya Hegwood, mother of Freddie Darnell Hegwood. 

It's been two years since Tonya last saw her son — two years since Darnell was killed.

"I keep waiting for it to get better, but living in a world without him is complete torture," Tonya said.

Darnell was just 17 years old when he was shot and killed off Haag Road in December 2020.

Tonya said she knows her son wasn't perfect, but she said he was a great son, both caring and silly.

"He was loyal, loving, kind," Tonya said.

Now, two years to the day since his death, Darnell's family and friends are coming back together inside Northwestway Park in Indianapolis, sharing stories and keeping Darnell's memory alive.

"D was so big on fate and understanding that things happen and it's our job to keep going," said Christina Vernon, a friend of Darnell's.

“It’s more of just keeping on going and doing stuff that he would do,” said A.J. Dee, another friend. 

Credit: Tonya Hegwood

In the cold December air, they huddled together to share laughter and stories about the lives Darnell touched.

"And I miss him, and I love you, Darnell, and mom's always got you," Tonya said. "You will never be forgotten."

The group held tight to their memories while releasing balloons, letting the wind carry the balloons away.

"Being able to let off balloons or lanterns, light candles and walk away with little keepsakes keeps us with him," Vernon said.

Credit: Hendricks County Sheriff's Office
From left, Antonio Lane, 16; Jeremy Perez, 17; Kamarion Moody, 17; Tyreontay Jackson, 18, have all been charged with murder in the shooting death of 17-year-old Freddie Hegwood II.

Three of Darnell's killers are now behind bars. Darnell's mother has helped bring them to justice herself, spending months on social media to help investigators track them down. Antonio Lane, Kamarion Moody and Tyreontay Jackson have all been sentenced. Jeremy Perez is still awaiting trial, scheduled to start next month.

"These trials, they're lingering, and we have one more to go," Tonya said.

Until that last trial is over, Tonya said she's not giving up. She's ready to keep pushing forward for her son and for justice.

"I cannot wait until the last one is over. I'm just ready, I'm ready for my son to have justice. It won't bring him back, but I don't feel like anybody that takes another life shouldn't get to live a life freely," Tonya said.

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