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An Outpouring of Support: Over 10,000 Honor Hailey Owens

Support for Hailey
Springfield community comes together for a candlelight march and vigil for Hailey Owens [Photo credit: Briana Simmons]

Officials estimate that more than 10,000 people joined to honor the 10-year-old girl at the intersection of Commercial and Campbell Street. Among those to offer a tearful goodbye was Zachary Capps.

"She’s in heaven now that’s why they're sending balloons up there," Capps said.

Just days earlier, Hailey's body was found inside the home of her alleged kidnapper, who has been arrested and charged in her death.

Taylor Frealy said harm to kids has to stop and this should make us more aware of the people around us.

"This situation goes to show that you can’t even put it past anyone that you might know or see on a daily basis since he was faculty member at the school district. I just want the family to know that I don’t know Hailey but I feel for her. I love them and I love her and it’s going to be OK," Frealy said.

Saturday's march was followed by a moment of silence, where thousands of prayers were offered up for Hailey's family. Prayers from people like Madison Williams.

"This is to Hailey’s parents our whole family everyone that we know we all send our prayers and love to you all it has affected us greatly and emotionally and we’ve been praying constantly and we hope that justice is brought for Hailey and may she rest in peace and she’s in God’s arms so she’s not in any harm anymore," Williams said.

The tragic unfolding of events this past week has been especially troubling for local parents like Shawnna Dennis.

"As a new parent, I’m scared of everything and the fact this happened so close to home it hurts the whole town. I really wanted to see everyone come together tonight to honor her and her memory," Dennis said.

For Jon Herbert, the father of two boys who accompanied him Saturday, it was important to fight such negativity with an abundance of love and support.

"I’m here today because I feel like whenever something bad happens in the world when something really heinous like this happens it needs to be countered with something good and when I saw there was going to be thousands of people down I just wanted to be a part of the balancing of the world. I wanted my kids to be a part of it," Herbert said.

While the healing process has only just begun for Hailey's family, her school and city, Saturday's community march and vigil hopes to be a strong step in the right direction.

For KSMU News, I’m Briana Simmons.