Community tries to sort through senseless tragedy at candlelight vigil
By Dan Moran firstname.lastname@example.org August 24, 2013 9:49PM
Early arrivals at Saturday evening's candlelight vigil for Joshua Summeries stand near a curbside memorial set up along Galilee Avenue for the missing 5-month-old. | Dan Moran~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 25, 2013 2:22AM
The parents of Joshua Summeries stood before a gathering of more than 200 people at a candlelight vigil on Saturday and thanked the Zion community for its support since the disappearance of their son.
Their brief appearance came at the end of an emotional, 45-minute outpouring of sorrow for what authorities reported earlier in the day was the murder of the 5-month-old at the hands of the mother’s boyfriend, 26-year-old Demetries Thorpe.
Zion Central Middle School teacher Ciera McNeal, who organized the vigil in front of Joshua’s Galilee Avenue residence, called on the crowd to make sure that “we will not let this happen again in our community.”
“We are all in mourning. Today, we all heard the sad news of a child that was gone way too soon,” McNeal said.
“Though this one blemish will stay with us forever, I love Zion, as I know many of you do, too. We may not have met until tonight, but this child has brought us all together.”
O’Neal pointed out that the crowd gathered around a curbside memorial of candles, balloons and teddy bears represented “black, white and Latino (residents) coming together to pray.”
“Joshua was a child that could have been our own,” McNeal added.
“Let’s not judge. Let’s not point fingers. Let’s work together in Zion.”
Pastor Luis Reyes of Zion’s Church of Joy said he hoped that “a priority would be put back on our children” following this week’s tragedy.
“We come against the spirit of murder over this city (and) violence against children and young adults,” Reyes said. “We defy those spirits of violence and we speak light back into our communities right now.”
Some 10 hours before Saturday’s twilight vigil, authorities laid out a case against Thorpe, the reported boyfriend of Joshua Summeries’ mother. Thorpe had been in custody as a person of interest since Wednesday afternoon, and Police Chief Wayne Brooks said he was formally charged with first-degree murder late Friday night.
“The States Attorney was able to detail overwhelming evidence against Demetries,” Brooks said in a statement, “including his confession, and video surveillance of Demetries placing Joshua in a Dumpster.”
At a news conference Saturday morning, Lake County State’s Attorney Mike Nerheim said Thorpe told investigators that he placed his hand over Joshua’s mouth for 10 to 15 seconds because the baby had been crying early Wednesday.
According to Nerheim, Thorpe also said he put the child into a backpack, which he then dropped out of a window before throwing the boy’s body into a garbage can behind the family’s apartment building on the 2300 block of Galilee Avenue.
Authorities say that along with a confession from Thorpe, they have video-surveillance images of him putting the baby both in the first trash container and then into a larger one that was subsequently emptied by an Advanced Disposal garbage truck.
Police have been searching Advanced Disposal’s landfill on Green Bay Road since Friday, with no results.
Late Sunday afternoon, Zion police reported that there were no new developments in the case.
The department issued a statement earlier in the day thanking residents “who support all of the officers and outside agencies that are involved in this horrible case.”