NORFOLK — NORFOLK, Va. (WVEC) -- Balloons were sent to heaven in Ocean View Friday night for a girl who was killed.
A vigil was held by neighbors of an 11-year-old special needs girl named Heaven. She was found dead inside her family home on May 18.
“What made her mostly special is she didn’t let anything stop her. She had cerebral palsy, and she was autistic, but she was still out here playing with the kids, they would play tag, they would sit and draw on the ground,” said next-door neighbor Dayna Arnold.
Many of those same young children attended the vigil. It was a chance to say good-bye.
“She was like a friend, and she was kind and she looked beautiful,” said Saryiah Williams.
The cause of death was ruled blunt force trauma to her head and torso. Heaven’s mother Laytoa Smith and her mother’s boyfriend, Demont Harris, were both charged with second-degree murder.
“I can’t believe that this is happening. I can’t believe that somebody is that cold-hearted that they would do this to an 11-year-old child that has cerebral palsy, and is autistic,” said Arnold.
Arnold said she never saw any abuse, and he thought Smith and Harris seemed normal.
According to court documents, Harris was the person primarily responsible for Heaven’s death, but Smith failed to do anything to stop it.
The overall issue of child abuse was brought up in the group prayer.
“We have to let the voiceless know they have a voice here in Ocean View and the City of Norfolk,” said David Muhammad, of the group Elijah 123 Masonic Lodge.
The group said it’s important to use this vigil as a wake-up call, that these types of incidents cannot be accepted.
“You got to report this child abuse. You cannot be afraid, if you are afraid, report it to the mason lodge, and we’ll make sure it’s reported to the proper authorities,” said Muhammad.
Court documents also show Heaven had a history of being abused by her parents, dating back to their time living in their home state of Minnesota.
“You would never think anything like that but behind closed doors, you never know what’s going on,” said Arnold.
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