Four years since the death of Janaya Thompson

It’s been exactly four years since Janaya Thompson of Gulfport went missing and her body was found the next day.

News 25’s Lindsey Goodwin went to the location today to find out how the residents of the community are still remembering the five-year-old girl.

Emotions ran high on Whitney Drive in Gulfport as residents remembered the horrific summer day, July 16th, 2014, the day a little girl just weeks away from starting kindergarten was murdered. Resident David Scott said, “It happened a good bit, a while ago, but it’s still one of those things that you never, you can never let go and you can’t forget hearing that such a young, beautiful child was taken away at that young of an age.”

Nearly 12 hours after a massive search began for five-year-old Janaya Thompson, her body was found inside an abandoned trailer. She was sexually assaulted and strangled to death.  Alberto Garcia was charged with murder and currently faces the death penalty.

Sixteen-year-old David Scott was just 12-years-old when the tragedy happened. He spent hours helping in the search for Janaya and says it’s something that hits very close to home. “I was a little off guard because we don’t have, it’s been a pretty alright neighborhood. It’s quiet. Whenever you hear that a little girl is missing not even 30 yards from the place that you stay with your family and everything, it’s a little bit scary.”

It’s been four years since the tragedy happened and community residents say since then multiple people have lived in the abandoned trailer. As of right now, the home is vacant.  Resident Renee said, “I couldn’t sit there and look at the place every single day because we still carry a heavy heart. When we pass the home, when we see the home, when we’re over by the home, personally I couldn’t live in that home.”

The residents say the murder not only affected them that day, but has changed the way they live. “You lose a lot of motivation to go anywhere or do anything because you know, it could be, it could happen to any of us, doesn’t matter the age,” said Scott.

Even though the home no longer has evidence of a memorial for Janaya, the community says she will never be forgotten. “I didn’t know Janaya. I didn’t know her family, but she is special to our hearts. She’s dear to our hearts. We think about her every day.”

Categories: Featured, Harrison County, Local News, News

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