Vigil for slain baby brings Ocean Shores together to heal

From City Hall to the churches, from the schools to the library and grocery store, Ocean Shores is going through a healing process as residents and city officials respond in the aftermath of the newborn girl found dead and abandoned Friday night in a vacant lot.

A candle light vigil is planned tonight at 6 p.m. at the location where the infant was found by a neighbor walking her dog in the 200 block of Fisher Avenue Northeast, about a half mile south of the Ocean Shores Airport off of Duck Lake Drive.

“In our congregation Sunday, we had a table set up with little angels on it and a candle lit” for the slain newborn, said Pastor Bob Hoem of Galilean Lutheran Church in Ocean Shores, helping to organize the vigil.

To his congregation, he said he referred to Psalm 139, which says “you knew me before I was knit in my mother’s womb.”

“The dismay is being echoed by so many,” Hoem said of the need to find a way for a community to heal after such a tragedy. “There are so many emotions, from dismay to anger. When you have an infant, that’s the most vulnerable.”

Hoem believes that is why the community has such a hard time dealing with such an event.

“Our culture tolerates many things, but we don’t tolerate murder or assaulting a newborn child. It’s totally against the grain of our humanity,” he said.

The message that needs re-enforcing, Hoem added: “There are options out there for young mothers that our society recognizes or authorizes. If they don’t want the child, bring them to a hospital or a fire station without any questions asked.”

The Ocean Shores paramedics, police officers and other law enforcement who assisted in the effort to investigate and arrest the mother and her boyfriend charged in the death were honored for their service to the community at Monday night’s Ocean Shores City Council meeting.

“It’s very hard on the families, and it’s very hard on the police, fire and other responders, and the citizen who found the baby,” Councilman John Lynn said, expressing his appreciation. “You all are in our prayers as you deal with this very, very difficult situation.”

Mayor Crystal Dingler ended her report to the City Council Monday night by thanking Ocean Shores Police Chief Mike Styner for keeping her informed of the investigation, which led from the lot to the Oasis Motel on Ocean Shores Boulevard where it is believed the baby was born and likely died.

“I know what a terrible thing this has been for all of our folks — at our level in the city, the police at the county level who came and worked with us, and the folks from Hoquiam who also worked with us,” Dingler said of the task force involved in the response.

At one time Saturday morning, Grays Harbor County Sheriff Rick Scott, Hoquiam Police Chief Jeff Myers and Styner were all on the scene where the body was found. The investigation was led by Ocean Shores Sgt. Dave McManus, who lives a few hundred yards from the scene.

Hoem was in the neighborhood Tuesday to visit the site and talk to some of the residents. He also is the police chaplain, too, and has been counseling some of the responders.

The idea of the vigil is to be life-affirming, Hoem said.

“One thing that struck me this morning when I went out there looking at the site, I saw a potted plastic plant container lying there in pieces,” he noted, and it made him think of the child.

Yet there also was a newly placed floral bouquet put there be Sgt. McManus, Hoem said.

At the vigil, Hoem wants people to “know that it’s OK feel” whatever they feel.

“Get it out in the open and let it be heard,” he urged. “It might be outrage, it could be pure sadness and a sense of helplessness. All of those things. It’s just reality for people and we all process that differently.”