GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - "This tragedy has rocked the foundation of our community."
With those words, Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes said what so many in Gulfport and on the entire Gulf Coast were feeling Thursday as news broke about the death of 5-year-old Janaya Thompson.
Dozens of neighbors, friends, and family members gathered Thursday morning at the abandoned trailer where the little girl's body was found.
Councilwoman Ella Holmes-Hines was among those offering support to the Boykin and Thompson families. In a statement to the media, she asked that everyone "keep them in your thoughts and prayers as they go through the unspeakable heartbreak of losing a child."
"It is an unspeakable tragedy for the family and our entire community," Holmes-Hines said. "The family is grateful for the family, friends and neighbors who contributed in the search efforts."
Councilman Myles Sharp represents the area of Gulfport where the family lives.
"The tragic events of today leave me searching for the words or a way to comfort the Thompson family after their loss," Sharp said. "Hug your children and all of your loved ones an extra time tonight, and be mindful of the loss to the Thompsons and our community today."
Mayor Hewes promised that the questions surrounding Janaya's death will not go unanswered.
"We have confidence in the compassion and professionalism of our police officers, and will devote all resources at our disposal to the solving of this crime," Hewes said.
Councilman Sharp agreed. "I have full faith that our police department will not rest until we have answers to all the questions that burden our hearts tonight."
Mourners were planning to gather at The Palms apartment complex Thursday night at 8:30pm for a candlelight vigil. Teddy bears and balloons were already being left near the spot where Janaya was found, as a shocked community tries its best to grieve.