WEST DES MOINES, Iowa -- Outside the home where Iowa 16-year-old Natalie Finn's parents allegedly tortured and neglected her until the teen ultimately starved to death, classmates and friends gathered Friday.
While dozens of people came together to remember Natalie, the memorial quickly became an open request for forgiveness. Many believe they did not understand subtle hints that could have been cries for help.
"She didn't have love and support in her home and we all came out here and stood for an hour in the freezing cold with our hearts filled with love," former classmate Kate Raridon told WHO-TV.
Authorities believe Nicole Finn, Natalie's mother, intentionally killed her and also deprived their three other children of food and clothing, according to Polk County court documents.
"We were in PE together and she stole my friend's shoes," Raridon remembered. "I caught her and asked 'why did you steal her shoes?' She said, 'Because I don't have shoes.'"
Ross Fix, another former classmate said: "We all needed to help her instead of criticize her and say 'don't do this. You are stealing. Don't be that person.'"
Candles formed a cross in the sidewalk and students took turns giving the support they felt they had not in the past.
"We are so aware now and we are connecting the dots," Raridon said.
Another former classmate, Mary Scout Coleduvall said: "I was asking for forgiveness for not being a good friend and not being a good Christian and looking out for my neighbors."
"We are all going to go home tonight and tell our parents 'Thank you so much for everything you do,'" Raridon said after the memorial. "Even if it's just feeding us."