Community members and classmates gathered to remember the life of Jacelyn O’Connor tonight at a memorial service for the 11-year-old.
O’Connor was killed last week in Chenango County.
The memorial service was held at 7 p.m. in front of the old entrance at the Morris Central School.
More than 100 people gathered wearing O’Connor’s favorite colors, pink and red, to celebrate the “happy” girl they remember. Angel wings were placed on and around the school.
Pink and red balloons were released into the sky as many neighbors say she is now thought of as an angel.
“Even if you don’t know the family — it’s still a tragedy for Upstate New York. It’s something you don’t hear of,” said Matthew Miller, of Morris.
Miller says he would see O’Connor and her family playing outside their home. He says she was “energetic and happy.”
Courtney Simard, of Oneonta, attended the vigil with her eight-year-old daughter.
“Being a part of the community, having it happen so close to come. Being a mother, having a daughter,” Simard said. “Just the realization that you always think things can’t happen to you until they happen 15 minutes from your house.”
Simard says O’Connor’s tragic death prompted her to talk to her own daughter about dangerous situations.
“People are capable of anything, I guess, and it’s just very eye opening and its very scary,” Simard shared.
Miller said the village has been shaken by the tragedy.
“As a father, you almost want to hold your kids up and keep them home and safe, but you can’t do that either,” Miller shared. “You’ve got to let them go out and be in the world and hope this doesn’t happen.”
Andrew J. Beach, of Gilbertsville, says everyone is just “reaching out” to make sense of what happened.
“She was in my son’s grade,” Beach shared. “Just such a young child. These kinds of things shouldn’t happen to anybody.”
There were grief counselors on site for classmates to talk with. For more information on how to support grieving children, click here.
34-year-old Tobias Runstrom-Wooding and 36-year-old James Brower were arrested and charged in connection with her death. Runstrom-Wooding and Brower are a couple.
The pair are facing first-degree murder charges. O’Connor was apparently one of Brower’s extended family members.