COMMUNITY CONNECTION - McFarland residents organize first Victims of Violence Vigil

The Oliva family lost someone close to them two years ago. Since then, no leads have been found on his case but the family says they're not giving up.
Posted at 6:09 PM, Nov 16, 2023
  • Video shows how the community of McFarland came together to honor the lives lost in the city.
  • Organized by the family of Oscar Oliva, a McFarland resident who went missing in 2021 and no leads have been found since then.

It’s been two years since the death of Oscar Oliva — a McFarland resident whose case is still unsolved.
But on the night of November 15th, the Olivia family shed a new light on his disappearance, along with similar cases, during McFarland's first Victims of Violence Vigil.

“I want the community to know that you are not alone, we all grieve together,” said Marisol Salinas, cousin to Oscar Oliva. “Pookie, we will find you and we will bring you home.”

Salinas says she’s been trying to coordinate this vigil since 2022 but at the time lacked support. That is, until she made a trip to a City Council meeting to request assistance from city officials — and thus began the beginning of what Salinas hopes is an annual event.

“We’re all grieving in some type of way,” said Salinas. “It’s a brother a son, a cousin, an uncle, somebody you know a loved one that's why we need to get together and make a change.”

The family invited other families who are experiencing the same thing, and this is just the start. A collage including a handful of pictures featuring residents who’ve gone missing is a reminder of the work that still needs to be done.

Oscar’s mom, Alma Oliva — is frustrated by the lack of progress in her son's disappearance.

“We need to stop the criminals not just for my son but also for those who come after because my son isn’t here with us anymore, that’s what I believe, but the other — the other mothers shouldn’t have to go through what I am going through,” said Oliva

However, McFarland families weren’t the only ones present at the vigil, City Council members, pastors, and the McFarland police department were also in attendance.

Grateful for the presence of the police department, Alma hopes there can be an improvement in how missing person cases are dealt with going forward.

“Every case we can’t always give answers when we want to that's just the nature of some of the investigations,” said Chief of McFarland Police Brian Knox. “We take them as far as we can and a lot of times they end up in dead ends and unfortunately that does happen, they become cold cases.”

Chief Knox says just because the case doesn’t have a lead doesn’t mean the department stopped caring. Chief Knox says with most cold cases, officers are dependent on the witnesses on the scene — but he says their efforts only go so far if no one comes forward.

Along with prayers, families also shared a moment of silence, lighting candles to represent the light they lost. Salinas says the vigil was organized relatively last minute — but to see the amount of support shows her how vital events like these are for her community. As for Alma, she says she won't stop looking for answers on her son’s whereabouts.

“I love him so much and I miss him and I will always miss him. I will never forget my son,” said Alma.

City officials say the goal is to work closely with Kern County representatives and the witness department to create rewards for anyone who comes forward with information by calling the hotline at 661-322-4040.

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