Hundreds attend vigil for girl

SALISBURY — A crowd of hundreds stood with candles, huddled in the cold in the City Park on Friday night to share stories and their grief about the loss of 11-year-old Sarah Haley Foxwell.

The event was only a preview to the mourning and commemoration sure to continue today during Foxwell’s funeral.

During the candlelight vigil, mourners came together to share their condolences to the child’s family and personal stories about Foxwell, but also to get to know one another.

Event organizer Heather Yesko said she was struck by the community’s support surrounding the search for Foxwell, who disappeared two days before Christmas and was found dead near Delmar on Dec. 25.

More than 3,000 volunteers created search parties to find the girl. During the vigil, many residents said they’ve never seen their community come together, and Yesko said she didn’t want it to end there.

“This is just indescribable,” she said about the size of the crowd.

Yesko, like many who attended the vigil, didn’t know Foxwell. But the news of the tragedy struck her just the same, she said. The 27-year-old Salisbury resident hopes to continue the community awareness in a nonprofit called Together We Can Make a Difference.

“I hope this is an eye-opener to us,” she said from a microphone in the epicenter of the vigil, surrounded by candle-wielding residents. “We should leave here tonight as a unit, not as strangers.”

Yesko asked those attending to shake hands and familiarize themselves with the person standing next to them, with whom they later shared prayers — some even brought to tears.

But it didn’t take long for conversation to turn to punishment for Foxwell’s alleged kidnapper. A debate was roused again surrounding Maryland’s sex offender laws when Foxwell’s death was announced. Petitions on Web sites have since been started, asking for a stronger sex offender law and calling it “Sarah’s Law.”

“Why was (Foxwell’s alleged kidnapper) on the street?” asked Sue Gray, a social worker.

The man arrested and charged with Foxwell’s kidnapping is a registered sex offender.

“Only we can get up with our legislators to have these laws changed,” Gray said. “It’s up to us to let them know if they don’t want to protect our children, they won’t have a job next term.”

Foxwell was reported missing Dec. 23. When the search for the girl was announced the next day, police said Thomas James Leggs Jr., 30, who lived nearby, was in custody. Leggs is a registered sex offender in Maryland and Delaware. It is also been confirmed by officials that Leggs had a previous relationship with Foxwell’s aunt and guardian, Amy Fothergill, for a short time about a month prior to the child’s disappearance.

Another aunt, Tracey Powell, made an appearance at the vigil to share thanks for the community’s support.

“We’re just here to say ‘thank you,’ ” she said. “Just know that we feel your prayers and the pain is unbearable.”

Additional Facts
Funeral is today

WHAT. Funeral for Sarah Haley Foxwell

WHEN. 11 a.m. today

WHERE. Emmanuel Wesleyan Church, 217 Beaglin Park Drive, Salisbury


Published in: on January 2, 2010 at 10:19 am  Leave a Comment  
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