Candlelight vigil for Cecilia Harris - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Candlelight vigil for Cecilia Harris

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -- More than 100 turned out in frigid temperatures Saturday night for a candlelit vigil for Cecilia Harris.

20-month-old Cecilia Harris was killed in 2010.

Cecilia's mother, Tamelia Harris, is set to stand trial April 11 for first-degree murder. She has pleaded not guilty to the crime.

Court records show officials found what they believe were small human bones in a fire pit in the Harris' backyard. DNA testing showed the remains were those of Harris' daughter.

At Saturday's vigil, one man said this could have been prevented. John Jasper is the president and CEO of Riverview Center, a nonprofit agency for victims of abuse.

While reading court documents, he said he kept seeing interviews from friends and family members, who said they were suspicious of Tamelia Harris.

"They knew that something was going on with Cecilia and that she wasn't safe," Jasper said. "Cecilia did not have to die. This did not have to happen. And we could've prevented this, as a community. Those individuals that had that information, that knew what was going on, could've done something."

He said a phone call or conversation could have made a difference.

One of Cecilia's babysitters, Shanique Ivory, said Harris' death has given her a new perspective.

"We say, 'We don't want to live, we hate our lives,' when, really, we need to appreciate the little things that we do have and us living because for somebody like her to be gone just like that, we need to appreciate life more than what we do," Ivory said.

Those in the crowd sang "We are the World" and huddled together for warmth and for comfort.

"To truly remember Cecilia, let's make a stand tonight," Jasper said. "Let's make a commitment that we are going to make a difference. We are going to say, 'no more.' We are going to end child abuse, moving forward."

As the crowd released balloons into the night sky, one vigil organizers said, "CC, we know you're an angel now, and your presence will always be around your sisters and your brothers as you watch over them."

After the vigil, organizers collected donations. They said they hope to raise money for a Cecilia memorial.

Online Reporter Becca Habegger

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