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Perry Community Gathers to Mourn Loss of Teen

PERRY, Iowa  --  Friday night was somber for the town of Perry, as residents gathered to mourn the loss of 16-year-old Sabrina Ray.

The young girl was found unresponsive in her home on Friday, and police say she weighed just 56 pounds when she died. Now, her adoptive parents, Marc and Misty Ray, face charges of endangerment and neglect.

Sabrina's death struck a nerve across the state, but in Perry it has grown into a movement of reflection and call for change, with some residents feeling regret for not taking action to help.

"They're beating themselves up because they wish that there would have been some kind of a signal brought to them that said 'hey, you know, help me.' So everybody's just in shock," said Jack Butler, an organizer of the vigil.

Others are also feeling anger.

"This girl deserves somebody to show that they did care," said Daniel Benshoof.

"You hear about things like this and it bothers you," Butler added.

Friday's community vigil at Perry's First Christian Church hoped to help many who never knew Sabrina deal with the devastation.

"Try to get a little peace, a little calming to everybody, and settle down the anger," said Butler.

The church filled up with those who hope the Sabrina Rays of the world can receive the help they so desperately need.

"I hope everybody kind of just opens up their eyes, you know, keep an eye on these little guys and girls and hope for the best," Butler continued.

In the heart of downtown Perry, a building has doubled as a prayer wall. While residents believe Sabrina's pain was kept silent, these messages are now a loud community response.

"Bring some awareness to this problem. It appears to be a problem."

A community memorial service for Sabrina will be held at First Christian Church in Perry on Tuesday at 7 p.m. The service will be open to the public.