And Eddie Blair died of a narcotic overdose in 1994, at age 34. His funeral was held on June 6 that year.

"Eighteen years ago, a small group of us stood around Eddie's coffin with candles in our hands. On that day, I said to Eddie … that his life was meaningful and that his death would not be meaningless," Murphy told the crowd. "As Eddie had the courage to stand up for truth and justice, we his companions on the journey, once again, stand and will light our candles as a sign of our commitment to his sacrifice and our promise to carry on the struggle."

Three pink balloons were released Wednesday to symbolize Blair, House and Micolowski, along with a purple balloon to represent others "suffering alone in silence." White balloons were also set free, signifying the victims' release from Merzbacher's hold.

"We will no longer allow anyone … to have power over us," said Joe Wehberg, who said he witnessed abuse that has been described in court documents.

Murphy met with Archbishop Lori last week to ask for his help in keeping Merzbacher imprisoned.

He had signed an online petition supporting the efforts on the May 16, his day of installation. And meetings with Merzbacher's former students, who've shared their stories with him, have since "cemented his previous contention that Merzbacher's release would only cause further harm to his victims and endanger more children and the community," archdiocesan spokesman Sean Caine said in an email.

"Archbishop Lori is hopeful that tonight's vigil will bring some peace and comfort to those who attend," Caine wrote Wednesday, "and pledges his continued support for their healing and for the healing of all victims of child sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Baltimore."

In an interview, Murphy said Lori came across as genuinely concerned during their meeting. But she stopped short of saying he gave her hope.

"He was certainly apologetic and understanding, but at this point and time, for me after the long history of this, and how many people at the diocese I've met with … I'm waiting to see action," Murphy said.

Anything else is "just crumbs."

tricia.bishop@baltsun.com

twitter.com/triciabishop

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