BETA

Members join community in mourning

GARDEN GROVE, Calif. — In the wake of the tragic kidnapping and murder of 5-year-old Samantha Runnion of Stanton, Calif., Latter-day Saints joined others in the community in mourning and in comforting her loved ones.

She was kidnapped July 15 while playing with a friend about 100 yards from her family's town home, which is located within the boundaries of the Garden Grove 6th Ward. Her body was found near Lake Elsinore the next day. A suspect has been arrested in the case.

"Friday afternoon (July 16) I went over to the housing complex, walked around, visited with others and left a note for her family," said David B. Lewis, past president of the Garden Grove California Stake and currently of the Southern California Public Affairs Council. "That trip became a pilgrimage for hundreds of families. Missionaries from the California Anaheim Mission volunteered to work two-hour shifts during the week assisting visitors and residents who left flowers, notes, candles, crucifixes, teddy bears and poems to the memory of Samantha. The missionaries were able to communicate in English, Korean, Spanish and Vietnamese to aid those visiting."

Brother Lewis said that at a community gathering the evening of July 20, about 20 missionaries and about 25 members of the 6th ward participated in singing hymns for the community, media, residents and family members in attendance. Hymns included "I Am a Child of God," "Families Can Be Together Forever," "Abide with Me; 'Tis Eventide," "I Need Thee Every Hour," "Nearer My God to Thee," "How Great Thou Art," "Be Still My Soul," and "God Be with You Till We Meet Again."

Earlier in the evening, Primary children from the 6th and 7th wards sang songs for those gathered in the complex, Brother Lewis said.