GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The horrible way that Janaya Thompson died is just another heartbreaking blow to people who clung onto hope that the 5-year-old girl would be found alive. Many parents are probably hugging their children a little tighter now, and they're wondering how someone could do this to an innocent little girl. They also want to express their love for Janaya and their sorrow for her family.
South Mississippi is now a community united in grief. Under dark skies and a light drizzle Friday, a colorful memorial continued to grow. It stood in stark contrast to the vacant trailer on Whitney Drive where Janaya's body was found on Thursday.
"It's really devastating," said a young lady, as she stood in front of the makeshift memorial.
"It's just heartbreaking to see," said a young man.
As people stopped to place flowers, stuffed animals, balloons and cards in front of the trailer, they remembered the precious little girl who police say was strangled and her body left in the bathroom.
"I just feel so bad for the family and the mother, and it's heartbreaking," said Courtney Peeler, of Lizana.
Many heartbroken parents brought their children to the memorial. Some of them are the same age as Janaya.
"I have a 5-year-old here, and he did go to school with her, and it's just really sad. I feel sad for the family," said Sierra Jefferson, of Gulfport, as she wiped away tears.
Several children, like 8-year-old Tanay Denise Smith, left their own gifts.
"I put a dollar in there for a little girl," Tanay said.
"She's a little girl, and she got dead," said 6-year-old Karma Lawrence.
Karma and her younger brother came with their grandparents.
"You see the tears right? Right there. They go through my head," said Sammy Bellais, of Saucier, as he pointed to his grandchildren. "I can't understand what the parents are going through right now. Been hard for me to walk up here and see this."
"To let them know you have to be careful around strangers, because you don't ever know what's going to happen. Something tragic like this, it can be in the front yard. It could have been them," said Sammy's wife, Carlyne Bellais.
The family brought flowers and a small sculpture with a touching message they wrote for Janaya.
"You are in the arms of angels," read Bellais. "It's an angel holding a baby, and she's up there with angels."
"It just hits close to home, because we live right down the street. I feel bad for the family, and all our prayers and everything go out to them. I just hope it encourages people to come together and not look at any downside to it. Just know that she's in a better place, and she's just not here to suffer anymore," said Jefferson.
Funeral services for Janaya will take place at Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church on Martin Luther King Boulevard in Gulfport on Tuesday. The wake will be held from 9:00 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. The funeral service begins at 11:00 a.m.