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Slain 12-year-old girl remembered at vigil

Published July 21, 2015 8:19 pm

Tragedy • Community in West Valley commemorates child who was learning to be drummer in her culture.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

West Valley City • Kailey Vijil loved superheroes.

And like a superhero, she was always thinking of others. Her friend, Kierra Draper, said Vijil helped her whenever she was feeling down.

"She would say 'What's wrong? What's wrong?'" Draper recalled.



Friends, family and neighbors celebrated that giving, 12-year-old hero's life Sunday evening with a candlelight vigil. Standing by their mother, Deshawn Vijil, her 14-year-old sister Taylor wore a purple Superman shirt.

West Valley City police say a 15-year-old boy lured Vijil from her home Thursday night. After her mother and officers went looking for her, Vijil's body was found in an overgrown horse pasture the next morning.

But it was Vijil's life, not her death, that her community memorialized Sunday evening in a field at West Valley City Park, 3500 South and 4500 West. The service began with a prayer and a American Indian version of "Amazing Grace," which included a drum song from Vijil's Little Feathers drumming class.

"She was learning how to be a drummer," even though most women in her Goshute culture don't pursue it, said her neighbor Dave Gomez – adding that in heaven, she might be still learning to play.

Draper remembered that her friend, who she attended Monroe Elementary School with, liked to draw. She was also a fan of anime,

It was also clear — from the purple outfits, purple ribbons, purple flowers — what her favorite color was. During the service, the attendees released dozens of purple balloons in her honor.

The service "lets us let [the Vijils] know how much we appreciate and are grieving with them; for her, and for the other family also," Gomez said.

A fund for the family has been set up in Vijil's name at Granite Credit Union. The Vijils will hold a private funeral later this week before her burial on the reservation.

"No parent should have to deal with what they're dealing with," Gomez said.

Vijil was first reported missing about 1:30 a.m. Friday. Vijil's mother went looking for her, happened upon police officers at a 7-Eleven store and told them her daughter had disappeared about midnight.

Officers pinged Vijil's cellphone, which led them to the pasture near 3600 South and 5200 West, about a half-mile from where the girl lived. Investigators have said they found evidence of trauma but no sign that she was stabbed or shot.

Officers arrested the 15-year-old boy later that day. If the boy is charged with murder, the case will be held in juvenile court, where prosecutors can seek to have him certified as an adult. A judge will make that decision after hearing evidence and weighing the severity of the alleged crimes, the community's safety as well as the boy's psychological records, family history and rehabilitation needs.

Since the discovery of Vijil's body, the owners of the pasture — who are not related to the suspect — have repeatedly complained that people are harassing them. People have reportedly trespassed through their yard to take photographs and thrown items at their house, said West Valley City police Lt. Dalan Taylor.

"We've had four calls since [the homicide]," Taylor said.

In response, police have beefed up patrols in the neighborhood.

Taylor emphasized that the pasture owners "had nothing to do with [the murder]." He added that if the harassment continues, "evidently we're going to [have to] make arrests."

mmcfall@sltrib.com

Twitter: @MikeyPanda

 

 

 

 

 

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