LANSING | Although most of the 100 or so residents who gathered in front of a home Sunday in the 17900 block of Wildwood Avenue never knew 2-year-old Jakariah Patterson, they felt the need to mourn her death.
The participants in a candlelight vigil endured 27-degree temperatures and strong winds to show their support for a girl the Cook County medical examiner’s office says died due to trauma related to child abuse.
“What brings us here is a disgust for the idea of child abuse,” said Jackie Harrison, a lifelong Lansing resident who said she and her friends wanted to make a statement against people who would physically harm a child.
They initially wanted a small candlelight vigil. But Harrison said that when word got out on Facebook, “it exploded into this.”
Fabian Newman, a spokesman for Lansing village government, said the event could have been bigger. As many as 300 people originally hinted they would participate in Sunday night’s event. He said "the cold weather is partially responsible” for keeping attendance down.
Harrison said she was pleased with the turnout of people holding lit candles singing songs such as “Jesus Loves the Little Children” and “Amazing Grace.”
In recent days, people have left stuffed animals in front of a tree on the property, along with blue, purple and pink ribbons tied to the tree.
Janelle Balentine, who said she is a next-door neighbor, said she remembers seeing Jakariah playing in the house’s front yard, and said that many people on the block were still recovering from the shock of the incident.
Jakariah was found unresponsive inside the house Wednesday afternoon. Paramedics were unable to revive her, and she was pronounced dead at the scene that afternoon. An autopsy the following day by the medical examiner determined the death to be a homicide.
Jakariah’s father, Jeremiah Thompson, 21, was arrested late Friday, charged with murder and was denied bond on Saturday by a Cook County judge.
Village President Norm Abbott, who was among the people participating in the candlelight vigil, said that like many other Lansing residents, he was still recovering from the shock that such an incident could have occurred within the village.
“Our Police Department got right on the case, and they were able to make an arrest within 24 hours,” he said. Lansing police were assisted by the South Suburban Major Crimes Task Force.