WEST BEND — For a moment, the scene in West Bend’s Benton Park appeared as nothing more than a community meeting with hundreds both young and old gathered round. But the candles, crying and the picture of three-year-old Haley showed the gathering is to mark a more somber occasion.
On Tuesday, May 1st, police flooded the neighborhood where they found Haley dead in an apartment. Authorities noted she had injuries to her face and body, and autopsy results showed signs she had been abused.
“Who’d ever think? A little three-year-old, and she’s just adorable,” Nancy Hamm, who attended a vigil for Haley Thursday night said. “I heard that on the news and I just started crying.”
At the vigil, Haley’s father spoke to the assembled crowd, but kept his distance from members of the media as he continues to cope with the tragedy. “They’re very distraught,” Hamm said. “I would be, too, if it was my grandchild.”
Haley’s mother Leeanne Lezynski and her boyfriend Justin Striker were arrested Wednesday, May 2nd for child abuse, homicide and keeping a drug house. Both have yet to be charged, but prosecutors believe they are responsible for Haley’s death.
Haley’s grandfather says he had custody of Haley, her twin and older sister until recently, because the girls were abused as babies.
Back at the vigil, all that mattered was that Haley was gone. “I don’t even want to think about it,” Hamm said. “It’s too hard.”