Just 10 months old and the victim of a horrific crime, baby Emmaleigh's first and future birthdays were all stolen away after her mother's boyfriend allegedly sexually assaulted and beat the little girl.
Emmaleigh Barringer died at the hospital on Wednesday. A vigil was held Friday night to honor her memory.
“There’s so much love in this family. Everyone's in shock but we're not thinking about that. We need the outpouring of love and continued prayers, so thank you so much,” a family member said at the candlelight vigil Friday.
Barringer’s mother found Emmaleigh Monday morning unresponsive in the basement of her West Virginia home. The mother's boyfriend was also reportedly there shirtless with his pants unzipped.
The Jackson County Sheriff’s Department charged Benjamin Taylor with first-degree sexual assault. Those charges have been upgraded to first-degree murder.
“As a direct result of Taylor’s actions, the infant child died on 10/5/16 from the injuries sustained from the violent sexual and physical encounter and abuse,” said Jackson County magistrate Tom Reynolds at Taylor’s court appearance on Thursday.
The story affected a number of people in Pasadena that's where the infant's mother lived before she moved to West Virginia this past summer.
Family gathered at the Riviera Beach Community Park to remember little Emmaleigh and the impact she made in her short life.
“We know that baby Emmy’s with the Lord in his arms right now. We didn't want it, but he needed her. He needed her. And now we need to help Amanda and our family and her babies that she loves so much,” a family member said.
People who never knew Emmaleigh or the family came out to light a candle for the infant.
“I just hope the family they see all the support from the people, know that there's people that care that are with them,” said Susan Saghy at the vigil.
It was a very emotional gathering for a baby that still had so much life to live.
“This is only one small group and one park, and this is love. This is love for their little girl and it's hard but she's in a better place,” said Saghy.
As of Friday evening, people have donated nearly $35,000 through a GoFundMe page. The money will be used to help cover funeral expenses.
Viewings for Emmaleigh will be held next Sunday, October 16 in Pasadena at the McCully Polyniak Funeral Home from 3-5 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. The funeral ceremony will be on Monday, October 17 at 10 a.m. at the funeral home followed by the burial at 12 p.m. at Glen Haven Memorial Park.