AUGUSTA — Brooke Locke always took pride in her looks, so the pretty 21-year-old always was particularly indignant when her uncle teased her, threatening to post online childhood photos of Locke sporting a gaping hole left by her two missing front teeth.

“I used to get the biggest rise out of her all the time,” said the uncle, Dan Locke of Farmingdale, his voice thick with grief. “To me the most precious pictures of her were where she was a little girl and she was missing her teeth.”

Brooke Locke was murdered in her Bangor apartment last November. Her relatives for the first time on Sunday joined dozens of other family and friends of homicide victims for the annual Maine Crime Victims Rights Week Luncheon at Le Club Calumet. The luncheon is sponsored by the Maine Chapter of Parents of Murdered Children, the state’s only support group for those who have lost loved ones to homicide, said Mary Farrar, a former victims’ advocate with the Office of the Maine Attorney General. Farrar’s brother, William Nicola, was murdered in 1974 during a holdup at the family business.

“When you’re in a group of survivors, you don’t have to say anything,” Farrar said. “It might be a hug, a handshake, whatever. You get it. We’ve all walked in each other’s shoes.”

Guest speakers, including Gov. Paul LePage, Deputy Attorney General and Augusta Mayor William Stokes and Maine State Police Detectives, assured their commitment to solving the state’s 100 cold homicide cases and explained the process of investigating such cases. Assistant Attorney General Laura Nomani, whose work focuses on investigating cold cases, said that in the past 15 years the state has successfully prosecuted 13 cases dating back to the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s. The cases are, by definition, the most difficult to solve, Nomani said.

“We are doing very good work, and we will continue to do very good work,” Nomani said. “We are personally and professionally committed to solving these cases.”

Cold homicide cases are currently assigned to state police Major Crime Unit detectives who must wedge ongoing investigations in between fresh cases of serious felonies, such as homicide and sexual assault. Stokes said a bill before the Legislature, L.D. 1734, would create a cold case unit in the state police. The bill has cleared committee with a recommendation to pass, but so far there is no funding.

“I can’t promise you if we get this unit we’ll clear all the cases, but I think we’ll at least give these cases as thorough a review as they deserve,” Stokes said.

LePage said the state must focus on solving open murder cases, including cold cases, while simultaneously striving to reduce the number of homicides by curbing domestic violence.

“That’s my little part, trying to prevent future crimes,” he said.

LePage, who has been open about his own history as a victim, said domestic violence touches all parts of society.

“There’s no monopoly on domestic violence,” he said. “I don’t care what your background is, it’s tough.”

The number of domestic violence incidents continues unabated, LePage said, but efforts to stop the trend have made headway in making such incidents more intolerable both to society and the victims.

“They’re not putting up with it any more,” LePage said. “The only way we’ll get rid of it is to make it socially unacceptable.”

LePage, who is running for re-election in November, said his campaign to end domestic violence will continue whether or not voters return him to the Blaine House.

“I find it one of the most heinous crimes, to lift a finger against another human being,” LePage said. “The last thing a parent ever wants to do is bury a child. I can’t imagine the pain you’ve been through.”

As much as Brooke Locke’s family wants justice — her ex-boyfriend has been charged in her death — ultimately nothing will bring her back, Dan Locke said.

He said his comfort lies in the knowledge that one day her killer will face God’s judgment.

“We’ll get through this as a family,” Locke said. “We’re always going to be touched by this.”

Craig Crosby can be contacted at 621-5642 or at:[email protected]Twitter: @CraigCrosby4