OCEAN SHORES — About 55 community members gathered at a candlelight vigil Wednesday to grieve for the newborn girl whose dead body was found last weekend. Mourners left flowers, toys and crosses at the wooded site where a woman out for a walk found the body.
“Let this not define our community,” urged Pastor Dick Carlson of the Shores Fellowship Church. “This is not what we approve of or believe in.”
A few of the people attending the vigil knew the baby’s parents from work, others knew the grandparents from church. But many were community members who had heard the story and were shocked by the brutal nature of the crime. Pastor Bob Hoem of the Galilean Lutheran Church and Ocean Shores resident Wilma Spike helped organize the vigil because Hoem felt Ocean Shores residents needed an outlet for their grief.
“[The death] just doesn’t make sense,” Hoem said. “People in the community are not able to rationalize it in any way. It doesn’t make any sense to commit such a violent act against someone so helpless.”
Spike said she moved to Ocean Shores from Tacoma because she felt like it was a friendlier, safer community. She said people in the area are especially upset because these cases don’t occur often in the area.
“This is the kind of thing you’d expect in Seattle or New York,” Spike said. “But never here.”
Also in attendance were law enforcement officials who first arrived on the scene. Capt. Brian Ritter of the Ocean Shores Fire Department said the case has been hard on those who responded — but he’s glad the child’s parents are facing the justice system. Patrick Parnel, 21, has been charged with second-degree murder and Brittany Taylor, 21, has been charged with abandonment.
“We’re all family guys on the force, and it’s rough having this happen in our community,” Ritter said. “But it would be a lot worse if we’d never found out who was responsible.”
He said he lives just down the road from where the baby was found, and that he wishes the parents had thought to knock on his door — or someone else’s — instead of killing and abandoning the child. Officer Don Grossi of the Ocean Shores Police Department said this is one of the worst cases he’s seen since he joined the force 19 years ago. He’s investigated other infant deaths, but this is the most violent, he said.