Jennie Runevitch/Eyewitness News
Franklin - A difficult anniversary has arrived for the community of Franklin. One year ago, someone murdered Chynna Dickus and her 10-year-old stepson, Blake. It's a day that forever changed their family's lives. The crime is still unsolved.
For Christina Dickus, the pain is almost unbearable. She's a mother without her son.
"He meant the world to me," Christina said.
She watches Blake in home video - a little boy with a big smile - but the images bring Christina little comfort. They're birthdays and holidays she'll never experience again.
One year ago, someone murdered her 10-year-old son.
"I live with this everyday, but with the year anniversary, it just feels like it's...I'm reliving it," Christina said.
Sean Dickus shares his former wife's pain, though the Marine veteran keeps his emotions more private.
"It's all very trying on me. It's definitely bringing me to the edge," Sean said.
He lost not only their son, but also his second wife, 26-year-old Chynna.
Last summer the couple built a new house in Franklin. They were hopeful and happy.
"I can tell you that I experienced that, and there was complete joy and bliss there," Sean said.
But everything changed July 24, 2006.
"I was here for lunch. I got to rub the back of my son's head for the last time and tell him goodbye. And I got to hug my wife and tell her goodbye as well. So, you know, I'll never forget those moments, that last lunch that I had here, and just a few short hours later, I came home to a nightmare that just wasn't real. I walked into my home and realized there was a problem immediately," Sean said.
He discovered a horrific scene: his wife and son, brutally murdered. Chynna had been stabbed to death. Blake died of stab wounds and blunt force trauma.
Sean called 911 from his son's side.
"I can't put words to that. It's just the worst imaginable thing that you could go through," Sean said.
Christina last talked to her son on the phone that day.
"He's like, 'I love you, Mom!' And that's the last time I heard him say I love you," she said tearfully.
That evening, Christina was supposed to take Blake to the movies. But no one dropped him off, and she wasn't able to reach Chynna or Sean. Christina drove to Sean's house.
"I couldn't even get down the street," Christina tearfully remembered. "And I saw all kinds of cop cars and a coroner's van, and then all of a sudden I noticed the tape around his house. I went running and that's when Detective Goldfarb, he stopped me. And I kept yelling at him to let me see Blake and asked him what hospital he's at and he just had that look in his face and - I'll never forget that."
It's a scene that still haunts her one year later.
"I miss him so much. It's so hard. My life has been turned upside down, with everything," Christina said.
So much has changed for Christina Dickus over the past year, but upstairs, in her home, something has not.
Blake's bedroom looks exactly the same day he died.
"Those are how they were left," Christina said, pointing to Blake's toys. "And his games...and his clothes he was supposed to put away, they're clean and just still sitting there. I just, I can't. I don't have the heart to move them...I can't!"
Franklin Police Chief John Borges says police take these murders and the victims' family personally.
"You do, you become attached to those people. It's hard not to," Borges said.
But one year later, despite a wealth of evidence, help from the FBI, and two Franklin detectives dedicated to the investigation, the case remains unsolved.
Who killed Chynna and Blake Dickus? So far, there are no answers.
"We've said from day one, we're ready to go the long haul in this investigation, and when I said that I meant it. We haven't received that lead or that tip yet that will break this case open, but we fully believe we will," Borges said.
Police have ruled out potential suspects. They cleared Sean Dickus, but they've stayed silent about any clues to the crime.
Someone burglarized a home down the street that same July day. Investigators won't say if it's clearly connected to Chynna and Blake's death.
"We actually know a lot more than what you know. The integrity of keeping that to ourselves is critical we believe to solving this case and we wouldn't want to do anything to jeopardize that," Borges said.
Still, Chief Borges is confident the will solve the crime.
"We believe fully there is somebody out there who knows what happened July 24, 2006 inside that residence, and we're not going to stop until we find them."
A year after his wife's death, Sean Dickus still wears his wedding ring.
He still lives in the home, where he experienced the best and worst of life.
"I feel comfort here and I feel safe here and it seems to wrap its arms around me," Sean said.
But not knowing who killed his family, or why, is difficult. "Because I know there's somebody out there that knows something and they're just not saying anything," he said.
And to a mother, memories and mementos don't dull the pain of murder.
"I just don't know who could do such a horrible thing, especially to a child. I mean, I just don't understand," Christina said. "It's just scary that this person is still out there that could do something this horrible, and go about living their normal life."
Because for those who loved Chynna and Blake, nothing will be normal again.
Christina Dickus organized a memorial for the anniversary of Chynna and Blake's death, to release balloons, say prayers, and honor their memories.
It is being held Tuesday night at 7:00 at the Franklin Courthouse.
There is still a reward for information on this case, through CrimeStoppers. Investigators believe one key tip could solve the murder mystery and help bring closure to a family that's lost so much.
Chynna Dickus memorial site - Created by Chynna's mother