GULFPORT, Miss. (WALA) – A steady flow of community members have been showing their support in the form of a memorial for 5-year-old Janaya Thompson and her family. It is located where police found the girl’s body. Overnight the memorial grew from a few balloons to a yard full of cards, angels, teddy bears, and notes of support and empathy.
Police found Janaya’s body in an abandoned mobile home in Gulfport, Mississippi on Thursday, July 17, 2014. They have since named two persons of interest in the case. Police arrested Julian Gray on charges of sexual battery and rape for a separate incident that happened in April. They also arrested Alberto Garcia for burlary at the mobile home where Thompson’s body was found.
While police work hard to find closure for Janaya’s family, the community rallies behind the family with support in the best way they know how – gifts to remember a young girl taken too early.
“It won’t bring her back, but it will bring her remembrance and let everybody know this baby had a whole life in front of her,” Sammy Bellais said. “A whole life that got cut short because of a monster.”
Bellais and his wife brought their grandchildren to the memorial. They wanted the family to give their condolences and to teach the kids that life is too short.
“You see that, you live right around the corner,” Bellais said. “You have to be careful.”
A steady flow of guests came and left the memorial. They left cards, stuffed animals and statues of angels. The people that visited came and left with a wide rang of emotions. Several cried. Some said prayers. And others asked for justice.
“I hope they get him,” said Victory Boutwell. “She deserves justice,” she added.
There was a somber feeling around the memorial as rain fell and clouds covered the sky, but out of a tragedy, a few visitors brought words of hope.
“I hope they can just stay strong, and keep the faith, and live to see another day, and press on,” Victoria Boutwell said.