BY HANNAH SIEVERT
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY
Even in freezing temperatures, a crowd gathered Wednesday night in Redmond’s Centennial Park to honor Maliyha Hope Garcia’s memory.
The 5-year-old girl died in December 2016 – she was starved to death by her parents Estevan Garcia and Sacora Horn-Garcia. The couple was found guilty of murder and criminal mistreatment earlier this month. They’ll be sentenced Nov. 18th.
“She was a very outgoing girl. She didn’t deserve any of this. She was one of the sweetest girls you’d ever meet,” said Redmond resident Kyley Keller.
Keller, who says she was friends with Maliyha was among the group who lit candles and shared memories of the little girl.
“It meant a lot to see a lot of these people out here. The community actually came together and saw that Maliyha was a good person,” said Emily Groves, a child care provider for Maliyha. Groves helped organize Wednesday’s event.
Originally, Grovers was going to hold a vigil with just her family, but heard from several other community members who were interested in paying respects.
“I quickly got the sense this is something our community needed…that people were paying attention to what was going on,” Groves said.
Groves hopes the event helped raise awareness on the issue of child abuse and prevention. She asked the crowd to remember to speak up for those who can’t speak for themselves.
“That we could come together as a community and say this has to stop. If we could save one child, even one, then her death won’t be for nothing.”
People attending the vigil brought stuffed animals and books that will be donated to local programs at the KIDS center of Bend and at Police and Fire Departments.