PERRY, Iowa -- Just over a week ago, 16-year-old Sabrina Ray was found dead in her home.
On Tuesday night, the Perry community gathered to remember the teen and try to find answers in her tragic death. A wall in the heart of downtown Perry has been dedicated to Sabrina, and in just a few days has filled up with messages of love and sorrow. To many attending Tuesday's memorial, Sabrina's death has become both a tragedy and a turning point.
Sixteen balloons were released into the air outside First Christian Church--one for each year Sabrina was alive--and as the balloons reached toward the sky, many in Perry believe so, too, did Sabrina.
The church held a memorial for the malnourished teenager found dead May 12th inside her adoptive parents' Perry home.
"This was a tragedy that happened to a young girl no one really knew, but we are all impacted," said one of the attendees of the memorial.
The death left many in disbelief, but it helped to guide the grief of an entire community. Inspired words addressed questions often left unanswered.
"This wasn't the will of God and God did not need another angel. This was a tragedy. God is weeping along with us."
As Sabrina's parents face charges of neglect and child endangerment, the memorial also helped to inspire.
"When something is drawn to our attention, we need to act."
While action never came for Sabrina, the community believes her pain has now become a voice of victory for the next child.
"I think that she's looking down saying, 'yes, fight for those who can no longer fight. I'm at peace.'"
The Perry Fire Association has purchased the plot of land needed for Sabrina's funeral. Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced because that responsibility falls on her parents--Marc and Misty Ray--who are currently being held in the Dallas County Jail.