In remembrance of Sierra and Daniel: West Jordan school honors classmates with memorial

Published: Friday, Oct. 5 2012 5:12 p.m. MDT

WEST JORDAN — The mother of Sierra Newbold watched the dedication of a new bench in honor of her slain daughter and said she knew Sierra was right there watching along with her.

"I saw her sitting next to the bench on the side, legs crossed, just smiling," Kathy Newbold said Friday with tears in her eyes. "I know she was here. She was beaming because it was for her and for Daniel."

Likewise, the mother of Daniel Allen said she, too, believed both deceased children were at West Jordan Elementary School, watching a service with students paying tribute to their classmates and offering a community a chance to heal. Daniel succumbed to brain cancer last year.

On Friday, a handcrafted bench, made of cement and decorative rocks, was unveiled next to a new tree that was planted, both in honor of 6-year-old Sierra, who was abducted from her bedroom in June, sexually assaulted and killed, and Daniel Allen, who died in 2011 at the age of 7. Both were students at West Jordan Elementary.

On the top of the bench engraved in the cement are the words, "A person is a person no matter how small," a phrase taken from the Dr. Seuss book "Horton Hears a Who." Sierra's name was engraved on the side of the bench facing the tree.

Brad and Kathy Newbold, Sierra's parents, were present for the dedication ceremony. They spoke briefly about Sierra following the ceremony, marking their first public comments since the death of their daughter.

Both were touched by the outpouring of love and support the community has shown them over the past 3½ months.

"It's been unbelievable. The whole community has been amazing. The ribbons, some have come down. But I think ours will be up for a while. And when they start getting ratty looking, we'll replace them," Brad Newbold said, referring to the pink and purple ribbons that were tied around every tree, mailbox, street sign and light pole lining the streets surrounding Sierra's house after she disappeared and after her body was discovered.

On June 26, prosecutors say Terry Lee Black entered the Newbold home at 2383 W. 7095 South, at 3:05 a.m. through a sliding glass door. A home security camera recorded someone leaving the house, "apparently carrying something," at 3:13 a.m., according to charges filed in 3rd District Court. Sierra's body was found in a nearby canal.

Black was arrested three days later and charged with aggravated murder, child kidnapping and rape, all first-degree felonies, as well as second-degree felony charges of robbery and receiving or transferring a stolen vehicle that led to his arrest. His next court hearing is scheduled for next week.

But Friday belonged to Sierra and Daniel and the classmates who played and studied alongside them.

"She would love it," Brad Newbold said when asked what Sierra would think of the tribute. "The saying on it is perfect. … She loved reading. It was just a saying that just fits her. … It just fits. 'People are people, no matter how small,' and she was a person."

Kathy Newbold agreed, saying that her daughter was always reading, and her favorite book was "Green Eggs and Ham" by Dr. Seuss.

Greg Butcher, with Hogan and Associates Construction, built the bench. It was Butcher who came up with the Dr. Seuss wording.

"I spent a couple of nights looking online for quotes," Butcher said.

When he came across the line, "A person is a person no matter how small," he knew he had found the right one.

Two of Butcher's children go to West Jordan Elementary, including one in kindergarten. He said Sierra's death hit "way too close to home."

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