GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - When Janaya Thompson was abducted, sexually assaulted, and killed in Gulfport last July, one of her closest cousins vowed to keep the child's memory alive.
A year after Janaya's death, that promise is becoming a reality. Angela Hinton wants to spare other families the same grief and pain.
"I guess I cried so much that I couldn't cry anymore, and it's still like that," said Hinton.
The tears, the sorrow, the intense loss, all those emotions still tear at Angela Hinton's heart, just like the day she spoke at Janaya Thompson's funeral.
"The only thing I could say was what I felt from my heart, and that I was going to miss her, that I loved her and I hated that it had to happen that way for our community to come together," said Hinton.
At that moment, Hinton decided to turn the pain over her cousin's brutal murder into a personal mission to save other young lives.
"When I was at her grave site, I made that promise. I was like, 'I'm not going to let you die in vain.' I'm going to let people know that your life meant something," said Hinton.
So Hinton formed an organization called "Purple Village".
"Purple is the color of royalty, and that was Janaya's favorite color. And village is for the community, and I feel like purple represents the children also," said Hinton.
The goal of the group is to help other families of crime victims cope with their grief. As a mental health tech, Hinton said she and other board members can provide counseling, financial support, and other services. They also want to educate children about strangers.
"I want to get the community back involved in our kids' lives and get involved in outreach activities and saving our children," said Hinton. "I have a lot of little cousins that are still Janaya's age, and I interact with them daily so, no, I never want to see this happen again. Just thinking about it, it upsets me."
The time she has devoted to Purple Village has helped Hinton deal with her own heartache. But she's doing it to honor her sweet, smiling five-year-old cousin's memory.
"She loved to be around kids, and she just loved to play and stuff. What I'm trying to do would benefit a lot of kids and families, and I think she would be really happy," said Hinton.
Hinton wants to host a community event to spread the word about "Purple Village". She plans to hold it on Janaya's birthday, October 15. The organization is in the process of setting up a website and finding office space in Gulfport.