(New Carlisle, IN) - Shocked. Saddened. Confused. Residents of New Carlisle gathered Sunday evening in their downtown park to express their emotions over a recent tragedy.
The body of 6-year-old Gracie Ross was found Friday night in the woods behind her apartment complex. She had been reported missing two hours earlier. Police say a fourteen-year-old boy is in custody, but no further details have been released.
Town resident Brad Ellett helped organize the Sunday evening vigil. He put out a call on Facebook to gather at the park, and over 200 people answered. “I didn’t know Gracie personally,” he told the crowd, “but I have children of my own, and I just can’t imagine what her family and friends are feeling right now. I wanted to organize this today so as a community we can show Grace’s family that we love them and we care.”
After leading a prayer, Ellett invited others to speak.
Olive Elementary Principal Tara Bush choked back tears as she spoke about Grace’s impact on her school. “Gracie made our school a better place,” Bush said. “There’s not very many times that on the first day of school I already know a student in kindergarten, but Grace was one that I knew from day one. Her smile even shone under the mask. You could tell she was smiling all the time.” Bush said Grace was proud of her pony tail and always wore a pencil in it so she was always ready for work. “Olive is a better place because she was there,” Bush concluded, “and she will be greatly missed.”
Gracie’s mother, Michelle Ross, thanked the community for their support. “I’m overwhelmed with the amount of love that you’ve shown our family,” she told the crowd. “And just keep us in your prayers because we can’t wrap our brains around this right now.” She added, “Grace just lit up the room. Everyone loved Grace. Gracie was friends with everybody. She just made so many friends wherever she went. I just can’t wrap my head around it.”
Funeral services are scheduled for Saturday morning, with a visitation on Friday afternoon at Palmer Funeral Home in South Bend.