The smile, the sparkling blue eyes and the kindness of Anna Palmer were mourned by hundreds of people who came to pay tribute to the slain young girl in a Thursday memorial service.
Anna, 10, was found with multiple stab wounds to her neck Sept. 10 on the front porch of her home. She died on the way to the hospital, the victim of a slaying that so far has yielded few leads to Salt Lake homicide investigators.At Thursday's service, the crowd of several hundred was filled with too many somber, young faces. Girls, in their best dresses, and boys, looking uncomfortable in miniature dress suits, held wrinkled bits of tissue, clutched at their parents' hands and cried for their lost classmate.
"There are times when you feel completely inadequate," said Eric Tolman, a religious speaker at the service. "There is nothing I can say that will make this go away, or make it better. I know this is the hardest thing this family has had to cope with, the death of a child. But for Anna, life is not over yet. She has wonderful things left to do. She will continue to work to touch the lives of her family. She will be praying over them and watching over them."
Anna's classmates tried to assuage their grief by putting together a memory book full of written recollections about the young girl. They also made a poster, signing their names next to tributes to Anna.
"I remember that she never hurt anyone!" Kiri Maxfield wrote.
The poster board, along with the memory book, was displayed so mourners could see how deeply this young girl had touched so many lives. A bouquet of balloons sat next to the tribute.
Sue Harmon, a Whittier Elementary teacher who had Anna as a student, spoke of how the killing devastated an entire school community, from frightened, confused students to the head custodian who was the recipient of Anna's kindness.
For years, while studying to be a teacher, Harmon said she fantasized about students who were always eager to learn, always anxious to participate and never hurtful or cruel. Anna, she said, was that student.
"She was an extraordinary child."
Harmon said students universally talked of the girl's capacity for love.
"She never got mad, she never blamed anyone. I wonder how many of us could say that?"
The service also featured the musical selection, "Love One Another," the command the Christian Savior Jesus gave to the world.
"As I have loved you," the mourners sang, "Love one another."
In the world of Anna Palmer and her family, it was a plea that someone tragically, cruelly, ignored.