Community Remembers Janaya Thompson

After almost two years, members of a Gulfport community are still reeling and authorities are still seeking justice for a five-year-old girl raped and killed in their neighborhood.
Saturday marks the two year anniversary of Janaya Thompson’s tragic death. News 25’s Kristen Durand hit the streets of the community where she lived and died. Here’s how they remember the heart wrenching day.
Toys, including a girl’s bike, sprinkle the yard outside a Gulfport home on Whitney Drive, but as neighbor Perry Hartmann remembers, it was a much different scene nearly two years ago as police scoured the neighborhood trying to find out what happened to five-year-old Janaya Thompson whose body was found right next door. “They had a screen up around it and they took her out and only then I had heard what happened. We got questioned by the FBI. They came around here and checked with all the neighbors,” said Hartmann.
Neighbor Steve Cohen said, “There was a million people here. I mean, you couldn’t get up and down the streets. That’s how many people were here.”
Janaya would now be seven-years-old and her vibrant memory still haunts those who live here. “I saw the little girl playing out here in the street quite a bit. She used to play with the little boys and girls that live around here. I think it’s a terrible thing. I don’t think it should happen to any five-year-old, any girl or boy that’s playing out here,” said Cohen.
Two years ago, Janaya’s body was found hanging in the bathroom of a trailer, a mobile home burglarized just days earlier by a man named Alberto Garcia, a suspect charged with capital murder in the case. His tentative trial date is set for Monday. “I assume that the guy is going to get what he deserves and what’s called for. I believe that he should pay for his crime. No doubt about it,” said Cohen.
Over the past two years, the mobile home has seen a number of families move in and out. A streetlight and fence have been put up as safety measures, but still, residents here hold their kids and grandkids a little tighter and have given a whole new meaning to neighborhood watch. “Mostly, the only children around here are right across the street here and now next door, so we kind of keep a close eye on each other’s kids. Even before, we didn’t take a chance, but even more now because this did happen,” said Hartmann.

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