A candlelight vigil was held in Long Beach on Wednesday night to mourn the death of a 1-year-old girl whose body was found in the Los Angeles River.
Over 100 people gathered to support a young mother while remembering her baby girl who was first reported missing late Sunday night.
The remains of the victim, Leilani Dream Burley, were found in the L.A. River, just below the Ocean Boulevard Bridge in Long Beach.
Vigil attendees were seen grieving through song and prayer, while the baby’s mother, Lynicha Hull, was seen in anguish, at times unable to stand on her own.
Leilani’s father, Jayveyon Burley, 22, has been arrested and charged with her murder. He faces one count each of murder and assault on a child causing death, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.
The baby’s family is now demanding justice.
“Leilani, Leilani, I’m so sorry baby,” Lynisha said tearfully. “She was so full of life. She loved music, books, she loved to dance, she loved giving high fives.”
Police say Leilani was murdered by her own father, Jayveyon, after he went to pick up Leilani and her 3-year-old brother from their mother’s Long Beach home.
Leilani’s grandmother called the police when Jayveyon returned to his Inglewood home with only the 3-year-old boy. Leilani was nowhere to be found.
Jayveyon has since been charged with murder and child endangerment.
“We didn’t deserve to lose a precious angel like this,” said Leilani’s grandfather, Tarethe Hull. “I’m just trying to tell each and every family out there, hold on to your child. Watch for your children and the lovers they try to keep.”
“Please help me understand. Why did he do this to my baby?” said Lynisha. “Help me understand. Why?”
A motive for the baby’s murder remains a mystery as police continue investigating the case.
While family members are seeking answers, they also want justice — justice for an innocent baby who was allegedly killed at the hands of her own father.
“You’re going to reap what you sow,” said Lynisha to the baby’s father.
“I just want justice,” said Tarethe. “That’s all I want. Justice for her and my family.”
The father’s arraignment hearing is scheduled for next month.
Family members have set up a GoFundMe campaign to help cover Leilani’s funeral expenses.