FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) –Ask any mother and she’ll tell you you’re not supposed to bury your child. They’re your future.

More than 18 years ago, Lila Heard lost her son Robert Dyke, but up until a few years ago, Heard couldn’t bear to go to his gravesite at Lindenwood Cemetery.

Monday, on what would have been her son’s 53rd birthday, she and her extended family and friends will watch balloons go up in the sky as they sing “Happy Birthday.”

His birthday is the same day as the National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims, created in 2007 by an act of Congress.

“I’ve thought of him every single day, multiple times for 18 years,” Heard told WANE Monday. Saturday, Heard was downtown with many other families who’ve lost loved ones to homicide, tying red and black ribbons around trees on Clinton Street at the Martin Luther King Bridge. It was an event held by JAVA, a local grassroots group organized to help homicide families cope with loss.

Monday night, the bridge will be lit in red to commemorate those victims who died at the hands of another person.

“It takes a part of your heart and soul and you don’t get it back,” Heard says.

Her son was 32 on Jan. 15, 2005, when he went to purchase drugs for a friend in a vacant apartment at the Coliseum Park Apartments, now The Summit at Ridgewood, off Parnell Avenue. Dyke was living there at the time with his girlfriend and son.

The drug dealer, who was a maintenance man at the apartments, lured Dyke to the empty apartment, robbed him and shot him with such force, Dyke fell through the floor to the apartment below, according to a narrative included in the appeal for Joshua D. Hughes, who was sentenced in September 2005 to 55 years in prison.

According to the man in the downstairs apartment who was watching television when the shooting occurred, Dyke landed on the floor surrounded by drywall and sawdust. The witness told police he heard a series of gunshots before the body fell through the ceiling and he heard someone running down the stairs.

Hughes got $1,000 from the deal and told his girlfriend to “watch the news.” He also told the girlfriend and her mother what he’d done and they informed the police.

Heard couldn’t bear to attend the autopsy and relied on her husband and son. She still doesn’t want to know the details but has been told he was shot in the head.

Cell phone evidence indicated that the victim and Hughes had exchanged numerous cell phone calls the day prior to and the day of the shooting and the two had been involved in prior drug deals. Hughes appealed the case because he said the bag of cocaine, found outside the witness’s apartment, had no evidence to link him to the crime. The bag contained 53.76 grams which in 2005 carried a street value of between $1,000 and $2,800, court documents said.

Because Hughes’ girlfriend and her mother came forward, Hughes was arrested about a week later. Heard said she got a call from the detective at the Fort Wayne Police Department.

“I thought, OK, they got him. Good. But it’s not bringing my baby back. I was just so distraught for a really, really long time,” Heard said.  

To get through, Heard said her family “built a little brick wall around me to take care of me. I didn’t want to watch the news. I didn’t want to see that. I didn’t want to read the paper. People were coming up and (saying) turn the news on. She’s asleep, but I wasn’t asleep. I was just pretending to be asleep because I didn’t want to talk to nobody.”

Family members just have to live it one day at a time.

“I don’t think you ever get over it, but you learn to cope with it. You learn to cry in the bathroom,” said Heard who has never told her story publicly up until this week.

And she has had many arguments with God.

“I believe in God wholeheartedly, but I argue with him so much because I do foster care. I said ‘I can take care of every kid in Indiana and you take my kid?’ That was the hard part for me to understand. But everything happens for a reason. I guess one day, I’ll get the answers, but I don’t have them yet.”