WAYNESVILLE, Mo. – Members of the Waynesville community gathered at Roubidoux Park to remember the life of a five-year-old girl who suffered in her home for months before her death this week.
“She was different. She was an amazing five-year-old kid, full of life,” family friend Skyler Brotherton said. “Absolutely full of life.”
The vigil lasted almost a half hour with dozens of people braving the cold to remember the little girl.
Brotherton tells KOLR10 the child who died was named Almeela, before talking about the response from the community.
“The fact that the community came together, to see that means a lot,” Brotherton said.
Brotherton says he knew Shamira Buford and Angela West, the two women charged with second-degree murder.
Court documents say Buford and West told investigators they would tie the child to a bed to keep her from eating overnight.
This week, police responded to the home when another child in the home told authorities the little girl wasn’t breathing and had a sock in her mouth.
“Honestly, I couldn’t believe it. It was a breathtaking shock because, like everybody says, nobody knows what happens behind closed doors,” Brotherton said. “I really didn’t think it was this bad.”
KOLR10 reached out to the woman who organized the event and says she was heartbroken when she heard the abuse the women confessed to.
She says it hits home for her, having endured something similar.
“I myself was a victim of abuse as a child, so it really touched home. So. But I’m a survivor, and this child, unfortunately, was not,” Tammy Peters said. [This event has] got to be a voice for not only her but also for other children who are going through this or who have been through this.”
Peters says the event is to celebrate Almeela’s life, not focus on the disturbing details of her death.
“I started praying and it just was laid on my heart to, like, be a voice for this child and just have the community come together and unite together
and show this child some love and some compassion,” Peters said.
Brotherton hopes people going through struggles are able to reach out for help.
“Don’t let another child go like this. I know how the world is, but reach out to somebody.”
Peters told KOLR10 they plan to have another celebration the weekend of March 18, which will be the weekend of what would have been her sixth birthday. Buford and West are scheduled to appear in court on April 10.