GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Jarmal Thompson said the grief only grows every time he thinks of his five-year-old daughter Janaya. He broke down in tears Thursday, as he remembered Janaya 12 months after her death. Thompson said he is seeing a therapist to deal with his depression.
He doesn't like to dwell on the horrible way that Janaya died. Instead, he wants to remember the joy she brought to all those who knew her.
"It hurts. It hurts. It's a painful feeling, and the stress is not easing up at all," said Jarmal Thompson.
Thompson said he still has those difficult days when tears fill his eyes and memories of Janaya come flooding back.
"That was my best friend. So we were really close. We did everything together, and for this to happen, it just comes with a lot of emotions," said Thompson.
So many things trigger thoughts of his sweet, smiling daughter: her pictures, seeing children playing, and mementos like a stuffed dog Janaya was playing with the day she was abducted near her home in Gulfport. There are moments when Thompson asks why someone would sexually assault his little girl and leave her body hanging in a vacant trailer?
"I had my dark moments. Was she hungry? Why was she there? What was going on? What would make someone do something like that? It hurts me to think like that," said Thompson.
"It made me weak. It made me sick. There were days I couldn't eat. Most of the time I wouldn't talk. I box myself in. Just knowing the joy that I had in my daughter's life, she made me a proud person," he added.
Thompson said he misses Janaya's voice and her adventurous spirit.
"She'd venture off and discover new things. She likes everything new, and her creativity, her smile, and the word 'daddy'. It never plays out," said Thompson.
Thompson said the tragedy has brought his family closer together.
"It made us a lot stronger, strengthen us as a family, also as a community," said Thompson.
And now, he has something to look forward to. Thompson and Janaya's mom, LaTisha Boykin, are expecting a baby in November. It will be another girl. They want to name her "Magnolia," after the Mississippi state flower.
"Oh, I'm super excited! I was super excited when Janaya was born, being a father is a loving thing," said Thompson. "I learned I got to smile and think about the happiness that we had in our household, our family."
Thirty-year-old Alberto Garcia faces capital murder charges in Janaya's death. Thompson said he's thankful for the Gulfport Police Department's help in seeking justice for the family.
"It's drawn us a lot of us closer, but behind closed doors, it also put me and her mom in a dark place, because all the grieving. It's hard to kind of get over. Being able to stay strong, I think we're doing pretty good," said Thompson.