By COURTNEY ASTOLFI
They spoke of a common sentiment of loss, but also of a community united amid tragedy.
“We’re here for them, we support them,” said Cheritta Newell, who helped organize a candlelight vigil Friday evening at Washington Park gazebo in downtown Sandusky.
About 50 people showed up to support the Castile family, whose youngest member, 11-week-old Athena Castile, died last week after she was stabbed multiple times in a Dewey Street home.
The infant’s accused killer, Denzel Castile, 19, was her cousin. He remains in a psychiatric hospital, although he is charged with aggravated murder.
Friday evening’s group lit candles, prayed and, at times, shed tears for the loss of a life so young.
Newell said she organized the vigil in hopes of showing Athena’s family that they are not alone in their struggle.
The Rev. Clifton Jones, of Agape Love Ministries, encouraged the community to push forward, but also to strive for betterment.
“We are a community that can bounce back from this,” Jones said. “This beautiful baby has not been forgotten.”
Sandusky police Chief John Orzech was joined at the vigil by officers from his department, as well as a handful of Sandusky firefighters.
Orzech, newly appointed as the city’s chief, told the crowd he and his department will do all they can to heal the wounds and eventually move forward.
“The fire and police departments are behind the families,” Orzech said.
A second vigil is scheduled for 7-9 p.m. Tuesday in Norwalk, at Suhr Park on Main Street. Athena was the daughter of Janisa Castile, of Norwalk.