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Destiny: Grief wracks community

Published July 26, 2006 1:13 am

Neighbors torn apart; strangers, feeling connection to slain girl, honor her
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2006, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Dylan Wood and Robert Green Jr., residents of the complex where the 5-year-old lived and died, were still stunned by the discovery and talked about how Destiny loved to play with their dogs.

Leon Cox, another neighbor, said he cried when he heard the news.

Newlyweds Danny and Jerri Herrera drove from their home in Kearns to lay red roses and a pink teddy bear in front of the home of a girl they never knew. Kenny Delaney stopped his cement mixer to lay a bunch of yellow carnations at the base of a tree that has become a shrine to Destiny.

The contributions joined dozens of bouquets, candles, stuffed animals and balloons left in front of the home at 721 S. 500 East.

"We've had so much support from the community," said Donna Archuleta, a friend of the Norton family. "I knew Salt Lake City had a big heart and this shows how big."

Contributions that were left over from the search were delivered to the Norton home and were to be used for a party for Destiny's little sister, Trinity, who turned 1 on Tuesday.

Volunteers, who last week distributed missing-child fliers throughout the city, on Tuesday began posting "In Memory Of" fliers. Several of the bills were even attached to the home of Craig Roger Gregerson, who was booked into jail early Tuesday as a suspect in her death.

Destiny disappeared July 16 from her home, setting off a massive search. Her body was found about 8:30 p.m. Monday in Gregerson's home, a discovery that sparked strong emotions, mainly of sorrow and outrage, much of it directed at the police.

That anger was still sharp Tuesday. Pete Liacopoulos, who does not know the Norton family, stood in front of their home with a sign that read in part, "Way to go SLPD you messed up."

Liacopoulos said police were not aggressive enough in their search. He compared the effort unfavorably to the 2002 search for Elizabeth Smart, who lives in an upscale neighborhood.

The neighbors who knew Destiny remembered her as a child who loved their pets and frequently asked to play with the dogs.

"She was so sweet. It tears me up," Wood said, his voice breaking.

Strangers also were torn up. The Hererras, who were married Thursday, put a cross that Danny Herrera wore at the ceremony around the teddy bear's neck.

"I do not know the girl, but I feel like I do," Danny said. "She needs it more."

A few minutes later, Natalie Barrett and her 2-year-old daughter, Roxanne, laid a necklace atop the teddy bear. The mother said she came after reading the news about Destiny in the newspaper even though she never met the family.

Sharon Kimball drove from the southeastern Salt Lake County to leave a candle and letter in front of the home. Though she does not know the Nortons, she said she is heartsick about their tragedy.







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