Community mourns slain 11-year-old - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

Community mourns death of 11-year-old

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Williams' classmates and teachers collected donations outside her school Friday morning. Williams' classmates and teachers collected donations outside her school Friday morning.
From street corners to the Internet, the community of Gosnell is raising money for the family of Jessica Williams. From street corners to the Internet, the community of Gosnell is raising money for the family of Jessica Williams.
GOSNELL, AR -

(WMC-TV) - A community is rallying around the family of a little girl found murdered in Mississippi County, Arkansas. Jessica Williams, 11, made an impact in the community before and after her death.

From street corners to the Internet, the community of Gosnell is raising money for the family of Jessica Williams.

"She knew everybody, talked to everybody and everybody knew her," said family friend Tiffany Hawkins.

The 11-year-old was found murdered Wednesday in a lake not far from her home on Highway 503. A complete autopsy report is pending, but the preliminary information suggests Williams may have drowned.

Neighbor Christopher Sowell, 17, has been charged with the crime.

"I just wish that people would realize that her family is in mourning and that [we] need to respect them and all show them nothing but support," said Hawkins.

Hawkins established the Facebok Page Honoring Jessica Williams. After more than 2,000 likes in two days, hundreds have offered to raise and donate money at a fundraiser next Saturday at Gosnell Baptist church.

"The teachers are getting involved. Churches are getting involved the community is getting involved," said Hawkins.

Williams' classmates and teachers collected donations outside her school Friday morning.

On Sunday a vigil will be held at the little girl's home church.

"People that didn't even know Jessica, their hearts are broken," said Hawkins.

Hawkins and her sister-in-law are familiar with heartbreak. Their niece Cadence McGuire was the only survivor in deadly car crash near Marion, Arkansas back in June.

"It really makes you want to do something when you see somebody else hurting and you know exactly how it feels," said Hawkins.

Now, a grieving family is paying it forward to help a family give a little girl the funeral she deserves.

"I mean you get one chance at this. You get once chance to put them to rest the way that you would want and we want their options to not be limited," said Hawkins.

Funeral arrangements for Jessica Williams are set for Saturday at Cobb Funeral in Blytheville. Visitation begins at 12:30 p.m., and the funeral service begins at 2 p.m.

Donations can be made at the 400 W. Main St. Branch in Blytheville to help pay for the funeral.

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