Strangers filled a California church on Monday afternoon to honor Trinity Love Jones, the 9-year-old girl whose body was found in a duffel bag near an equestrian trail earlier this month.
Catholic, Protestant and Buddhist clergy led the “memorial of light” service at St. John Vianney Catholic Church in Hacienda Heights
“The darkness will not prevail,” said the Rev. Egren Gomez, an associate pastor at the Catholic church. “Trinity, we welcome your light, we ask you bless all the darkness in our midst and let your iconic light shine.”
Lavender was Trinity’s favorite color, and she lay in a casket that color in front of the church under a bigger-than-lifesize photo of her.
Attendees were encouraged to bring a children’s book that would be donated, according to a Facebook post announcing the service, and to wear bright colors “as we are celebrating a young and vibrant life.”
The Hacienda Heights community was shocked when workers clearing brush found a girl’s body March 5 near an equestrian trail, not far from a Buddhist temple. Her head and upper body were protruding from the partially zipped rollaway black duffel bag.
Her body was not identified for days.
The Venerable Miao Hsi of Hsi Lai Buddhist Temple in Hacienda Heights said she felt a special connection to Trinity because the body was found near the temple she leads.
“In Buddhism, we believe that when someone passes away … they’re reborn,” she said. “They will not be with us but they will be seeing us in the future. We are here to celebrate Trinity’s rebirth.”
The Rev. Darnell Hammock from New Life Community Life Church in Oakland said he’s tired of hearing about young girls dying in Oakland, the Congo, Chicago and other places. He urged people to look out for other Trinitys.
“When do we change the channel?” he asked.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn said the death of Trinity was tragic but has brought people together.
Speaking to Trinity’s family, Hahn said, “I wanted you to know that we believe Trinity’s life mattered. … In a county of 10 million people, one life does matter.”
Trinity’s mother, Taquesta Graham, 28, and her boyfriend, Emiel Hunt, 38 are accused of killing Trinity on March 1, according to a criminal complaint. They are both in custody.
Since the body was found, a memorial has sprung up near the trail.
Dozens of heart and star-shaped balloons, flowers, dolls and plush toys of all sizes have been left there. One message read, “Rest in heaven, princess.”
CNN’s Eliott C. McLaughlin and Susannah Cullinane contributed to this report.