VALLEJO, Calif. -- The image of 7-year-old Xiana Fairchild smiled down at the more than 600 who came yesterday to mourn her death, 14 months after family members reported her disappearance.
Over 600 gather to
mourn Xiana Fairchild
Mourners were serenaded with traditional Hawaiian melodies and an American Indian chant as the Vallejo girl's family thanked them for making her search a part of their lives.
"I think there are only a handful of you here who have met Xiana, yet everyone cared for her and loved her," said Xiana's great-aunt Stephanie Kahalekulu, who has led the search for the girl, and now for her killer.
Kahalekulu raised Xiana in Hawaii and Colorado until the girl went to Vallejo six months before her disappearance.
"From a little girl who can't be here to tell you herself, thank you very much," Sisto Domingo, Xiana's great-uncle, told the crowd.
Balloons, teddy bears and flowers in purple -- Xiana's favorite color -- graced the hall. Parents hugged their children tightly as Domingo described the agony of a child gone missing.
"If you can for the next few months, imagine what you would go through when you first hear a family member is missing," Domingo said.
Xiana's mother Antoinette Robinson wore a purple dress and wept throughout the ceremony. She thanked the community for its devotion to finding her daughter.
The family released doves as mourners set free a cloud of purple and gold balloons, many carrying skyward cards with messages to Xiana.
Robinson reported her daughter missing on Dec. 19, 1999. Robinson's boyfriend, Robert Turnbough, told police he had left the girl at a bus stop, but later changed his story to say she walked alone to catch the bus.
The search ended Jan. 19 when a construction worker found portions of a skull and two pieces of jaw on a mountainous road 60 miles south of her Vallejo home. DNA from a molar was compared to DNA from Xiana's toothbrush to make the match.