About 30 people gathered Monday afternoon to bless the home of Linda Malcom, who was killed April 30 before the house she rented for 11 years was set on fire.
“We reclaim this place of death as a place of life,” said retired Pastor George Larson of Spirit of Life Lutheran Church, who sprinkled water in front of the home on Sidney Avenue and on the crowd as a symbol of cleansing and rebirth. “Come, spirit, as we sprinkle this water.”
Larson was joined in the blessing by Pastor Elizabeth Engel from Elim Lutheran Church and Rev. Sandra Bochonok, the president of the Bremerton Ministerial Association, which organized the gathering.
Bochonok held a pole with several red and purple ribbons attached to it, each with the name of a person killed or hurt by violence — including Malcom.
“Linda is not gone, not really — I know that for certain,” said Don Johnson, describing himself as a longtime friend of Malcom. “People who die live on in the hearts of those who are left behind, so I know Linda lives.”
Others who spoke remembered the 47-year-old Malcom as a fun, friendly woman who loved music. Reading from her obit, Bochonok said Malcom was born in Alabama as one of nine children, and served in the U.S. Navy before moving to Port Orchard, “a town she loved.”
A white cross and several bouquets of flowers were left at the front door of the home on the 1100 block of Sidney Avenue, which the owner had planned to demolish this month before the tragedy occurred.
In the past two weeks, the home has been combed for evidence by the Port Orchard Police Department, the Washington State Patrol Crime lab and the Kitsap County Fire Marshal, since soon after Malcom’s body was discovered the fire and death was deemed suspicious.
Her death has since been declared a homicide, and the fire arson.
The blessing, the pastors said, was designed to “reclaim” the site.
“We hope to reclaim this site as a place of life, of community and of hope,” said Engel.