FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) -- Dozens of people gathered at Redline Honda for a candlelight vigil Tuesday night in honor of Aliahna Lemmon. At least a hundred people were present to pay their respects and remember the 9-year-old girl.
It was an emotional good-bye. The crowd met at Redline Honda at 9389 North Clinton Street, and walked across the street to the Northway trailer park.
Aliahna's mother, Tara, was being pushed in a wheel chair by her step-father, David Story. They led the crowd to their trailer where a memorial of teddy bears, dolls and candles were set-up. The crowd of mostly neighbors looked on as Tara broke down in tears. Holding their candles, the crowd sang a round of “Amazing Grace,” “Jesus Loves Me,” and “Silent Night.” After Aliahna’s mother left, many people placed their candles on the memorial.
Indiana’s NewsCenter spoke to attendees who say they're from the area. They say they knew of Aliahna and of Michael Plumadore, and they’re upset at how Aliahna was killed.
Joe Hair said he used to live in Northway. He came to the vigil because he was friends with Aliahna’s grandpa, who died earlier this month, and he also knew Plumadore.
“You really don’t know a person. You never know a person until something like this happens,” Hair said. “To hurt an innocent child like this is beyond comprehension. I just don’t understand him. You would never have the idea that he would be able to do something like this.”
Hair said he is hurt by the tragedy. “Even though it's not family, I'm hurt. A lot of people in this area are hurt about this,” he said. “I don’t feel hatred, I feel pain for the guy. His day will come. He’ll be judged for it, and he’ll be judged harshly about this.”
Kasie King said she organized a search party for Aliahna Monday. She said after she heard the news she couldn’t sleep. “It just tore me up inside. I feel horrible about it,” King said. King said she wanted to pay her respects to Aliahna.
“What was done to her was not right at all. I feel as though now no one can touch her, no one can harm her. She's in a better place,” King said.
Colleen Laisure is a mother of three. She also lives in Northway. She said she came to vigil to wish Aliahna justice and the family peace. Laisure was disturbed by the news.
“It happened pretty much in our back yard. Stuff like this doesn't really happen a lot, and you hear about it in other places. It just makes you want to hold your kids tighter,” Laisure said.
Although King is bothered by the situation, she said it could also serve as a lesson.
“I just hope that people look at this situation and watch who they leave their kids with. Make sure they’re family, and if they’re not family make sure you’ve known them for years. And if you’ve known them for years, make sure they don’t have criminal background or any kind of thing,” King said.
A candlelight vigil was also held Monday evening. Over 100 people showed up and prayed for Aliahna’s safe return. This was before the Allen County Sheriff announced Aliahan’s remains had been found and Plumadore had confessed to allegedly killing her.
The Northway trailer park is collecting donations to help Aliahna’s family. No details have been released about Aliahna’s funeral plans. Indiana’s NewsCenter will share that information as soon as it becomes available.
The search for missing Aliahna Lemmon came to a tragic end Monday night.
Allen County Sheriff Ken Fries announced police found the 9-year-old's remains after 9PM Monday evening. They have also arrested neighbor and family friend Michael Plumadore.
Lemmon has been missing since Friday. Police say she was last seen in the Northway trailer park around Clinton Street and Diebold Road.
Monday morning, Corporal Jeremy Tinkel with the Allen County Sheriff’s Department held a short press conference to address Aliahna’s disappearance. Tinkel says there are no leads, suspects or tips that have pushed the Allen County Sheriff’s Department in a new direction. He says that despite there being no new leads or suspects, the case has not gone cold.
“At this point, this investigation has not gone cold. We have people working around the clock. We have detectives that are assigned to this. We’re personally committed as a department to finding this girl and being able to bring her home. That’s our job, and that’s our focus. That’s what we want to do.”
Family member, Elizabeth Sepponen says Aliahna’s mother, Tara, has been very ill and Aliahna and her two younger sisters have been in the care of a neighbor for the past week while the mother recovers.
Police say Aliahna was last reported sleeping in a chair at the neighbor’s house before she went missing. Sepponen said when Tara called to check up on her daughters, the neighbor realized Aliahna was missing. Aliahna's sisters say she left.
“The babysitter thought that she had gone home to Tara. So nobody realized, because of the miscommunication, that she had actually been missing for a few hours,” Sepponen said. “Tara’s pretty freaked out.”
Police interviewed neighbors and family members all weekend. Aliahna lives in a trailer home with her mother and step-father in a neighborhood where 15 registered sex offenders also live. However, Sheriff Fries says they’ve already gone to each offender’s house and interviewed them. He says none of them are suspects.
“We're not going to rule out anything as far as foul play. Maybe she's just at a friend's house,” said Ken Fries, Allen County Sheriff. “We're hoping somebody sees this and says, 'Oh Aliahna's at our house, come get her.'”
Aliahna also goes by the names “Ailey” and “Ana,” and Sepponen says she is partially blind and deaf and suffers from mood and conduct disorders.
Sheriff Fries says a run away unlikely. “Nine is young to be running away, especially when you couple that with Christmas,” Sheriff Fries said.
“They're not quite sure where she went or what was in her mind at the time,” Sepponen said.
No searches were conducted Sunday, but on Saturday the FBI, fire departments, city, county, and state police agencies searched a five-mile-radius for the missing girl.
Officers were using everything they could to find her...boats, planes, K-9 units, ATVs and man power—everything except an Amber Alert.
“Justifiably so, if they put Amber Alerts out for every missing child or possible run away or anything, nobody would pay attention to them. So there's certain criteria that have to be met for an Amber Alert,” Sheriff Fries said.
According to amberalert.gov, an Amber Alert will not be issued unless: there is reasonable belief abduction has occurred, police believe the child is in imminent danger, there is enough information about the description and abduction of the child, the child is 17 or younger, and the child's name has been entered into the national crime information center. Sheriff Fries says this particular case meets none of these criteria.
“My sister and I are out handing out flyers, we have relatives that are out, people from our churches,” she said.
Even Facebook pages have been created and dedicated to finding Aliahna. So far there's over 1,450 “Likes” and “Shares.”
According to the police report, Aliahna was last wearing a white and silver sweater dress with white tights (as shown in the picture), a black and blue plaid coat with fur around the hood, and black shoes with bows. She's 4 ft. tall, 41 lbs., has freckles, and has a birth mark on the back of her neck.
“We're just doing the best we can,” Sepponen said.
“I think everybody's goal is to find her and get her home,” Sheriff Fries said.
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