Community mourns Sabrina’s death, plans grief services

Friday night vigil, Tuesday memorial service, tree planting planned

Several memorial events have been planned for Sabrina Ray, 16, of Perry, who died May 12. Preliminary evidence suggests she died of starvation.

As the Perry community reels in shock and sorrow at the painful revelation of Sabrina Ray’s death by starvation, rituals of grief are taking shape, including a candlelight vigil at 8 p.m. Friday at the Pattee Park bandshell.

“What happened this past week is a very sad tragedy,” said Erin Butler of Perry, “and we feel it’s the least we could do.” Butler said the event is organized as a way for the town to “show our respect for this poor girl.”

Mourners are invited to gather at the bandshell at W. Fifth Street and Park Road between 7:30 p.m. and 7:45 p.m., with a ceremonial release of Chinese lanterns at 8 p.m.

If rain makes an outdoor event impossible, the vigil will be held at the First Christian Church at Third and Lucinda streets in Perry.

Plans are also in progress for a memorial service Tuesday, May 23 at 7 p.m. at the First Christian Church in Perry. The Rev. Paul Burrow of the First United Methodist Church in Perry said several local pastors will lead the service.

A Sabrina Ray Memorial Account has been opened at the Great Western Bank in Perry by a group called,  Planting a Flowing Cherry Tree in Honor of Sabrina Ray. The effort is organized by Amanda Howard, Brian West and Heather Watson of Perry.

“I want to have a planting ceremony at some point to honor this beautiful child,” Howard said Friday morning. “I want to do this because she was a well loved child, and no one deserves what happened to her. I want her to be remembered and never forgotten. I also hope it raises awareness about child abuse so nothing like this ever happens to another child.”

For additional information, visit Great Western bank at 1111 141st St. in Perry or call 515-465-3187.

In addition, a Facebook page has been created called, “A Voice for Sabrina Ray,” in connection with a sign along Willis Avenue at Second Street that mourners can inscribe with words of condolence. will update this story as additional events are scheduled for Sabrina Ray, 16, of Perry, who died May 12. Her adopted parents were arrested Thursday in connection with her death, which preliminary evidence suggests was caused by starvation.


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