Our town suffered a blow last week when an Amber Alert was issued for 10 year old Haley Owens.
Alert neighbors witnessed the kidnapping and reported the license number that resulted in an arrest. Haley’s body was found a few hours later. The crime rocked and shocked our city. As tragic as the story is, it’s been an interesting study of how social media played out in the apprehension of the suspect, reporting of the crime, and finally, the memorial service that took place last night.
A candle light vigil was held in the downtown area for Haley and estimates are that over 10,000 mourners turned out for this event, many wearing Haley’s favorite colors pink and purple. There were rumors that a certain Baptist church from Kansas would be there protesting, and there were hundreds of bikers on hand to support the family. There was no need for protection, as it was a peaceful assembly to celebrate the life of an innocent child. Many long term members of this community have commented that they have never seen such a large group come together as a show of strength here. In addition to the memorial funds that have been set up, there has been a motorcycle ride, a poker tournament, chili suppers, and waitresses at several restaurants donating tips to the family in effort to raise funds for the family. It’s been a generous outpouring from the community like I’ve never seen. Rest in Peace, Haley.