BRISTOL, Va. — As the community continues to come together following the discovery of remains in the Evelyn Boswell case, dozens gathered at St. Anne Catholic Church in Bristol to pray Tuesday night.
“I am very happy to see so many people coming together, so many people in our community come together to show such love and support and prayer for people going through such a difficult time,” said Father Chris Hess, who led the service.
People from across the community filled the sanctuary, lighting candles and praying for the toddler, the subject of an Amber Alert issued in February. On Friday night, the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said they found remains believed to be Evelyn at a property on Muddy Creek Road near Blountville.
A day earlier, Hess said St. Anne was contacted by Ashley Curley about whether they could hold a prayer vigil for Evelyn. Curley wanted an opportunity for people in Bristol to pray for Evelyn.
Once remains were found, Curley and others decided a vigil was still needed.
“Our hearts are heavy with sorrow,” Hess said as he led prayer. “Please keep her safe until we all meet again.”
The pastor said he’s been inspired by the community’s response.
“I am so happy. I am so moved to see this kind of response from the community,” said Hess, who noted that several vigils have been held and others are planned throughout the region. “This is very inspiring to me.”
Hess previously served 17 years in the fire and emergency medical field, he said.
“There is nothing worse, there is no situation that is worse to have experienced than something like this,” Hess said.
The pastor said there are many people in the community who need support and prayers, including Evelyn, her family, friends and others touched by recent events.
“There’s all the members of our community who are touched by just knowing what has happened. There are people who are continuing to work on this case who also need our prayers,” Hess said.
Rogers is one of the organizers behind Evelyn’s Army, a social media group dedicated to remembering Evelyn and helping others. During the search, the group hosted a prayer vigil at Cumberland Square Park. After the remains were found, they gathered at a memorial on Muddy Creek Road to pray.
Another memorial is being held Friday at 6:30 p.m. in Kingsport at the Model City Event Center. A memorial motorcycle ride for Evelyn is scheduled Saturday at 2 p.m. and will begin at the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office.
In addition, a number of people and organizations were selling or handing out decals, shirts and other items. Several groups are also collecting items, such as stuffed animals, which will be given to local children.
Items left at two memorials, one at a church in the 500 block of Muddy Creek Road and another at the Sheriff’s Office, will be distributed to various organizations for children.
The Children’s Advocacy Center of Sullivan County is accepting donations for the Evelyn Boswell Memorial Fund. Checks can be mailed, and donations can also be made through the website, www.cacsctn.org/donate.
All donations to the CAC will be used for direct assistance to child victims of abuse, according to Executive Director Gena Frye. Needs include shoes, clothing items, food, medication and various other items, she said.
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