FORT WAYNE, Ind. - The mother of a 9-year-old Fort Wayne girl sobbed as about 50 people sang during a candlelight vigil near the spot where police say she was killed by her babysitter.
The group gathered Tuesday night at a car dealership and then walked across a street to the mobile home park where Aliahna Lemmon lived and a memorial of crosses and teddy bears was set up.
The Journal Gazette reports Aliahna's mother, Tarah Souders, cried as the crowd sang "Amazing Grace" and "Silent Night." Souders didn't speak during the 15-minute vigil.
Sounders' friends and former high school classmates said Souders has been temporarily paralyzed from the waist down, CBS affiliate WANE reports. The friends said they spoke to her for half an hour on Tuesday, and feel she will be able to walk again in a few days.
Brandi Mossburg lives nearby with her two children and says she trembled after hearing about Aliahna's death.
Police say 39-year-old Michael Plumadore told investigators that he bludgeoned Aliahna to death with a brick, then dismembered her with a hacksaw.
To assist her dying father, Souders made a choice: She moved her three young girls to a run-down trailer park in rural Indiana to help take care of him as his lungs rotted from emphysema.
She knew it could be dangerous. The park of about two dozen homes was teeming with convicted sex offenders, with one living at nearly every address. She worried about neighbors with sex offense records who had been helping her father get by, according to trailer park residents. And before she arrived, she even asked her father if her children could be at risk for abuse from two specific men including a suspect now accused in her daughter's death.
"He said, `No. They will not touch your children. They're doing everything they're supposed to do,"' said Greg Shumaker, one of 15 convicted sex offenders who live at the park and the other man that Souders had inquired about.
Not long after they moved, police say, the horrific tragedy unfolded.