550 And Counting to Attend Vigil for Slain Youth, Funding Effort Also Growing
Hundreds are expected to come together Saturday in Branson to honor the life of Jasmine Miller, a 6-year-old girl found strangled to death inside a motel room over the weekend.
An event posted to Facebook had more than 550 confirmed guests as of noon Tuesday. It is to begin at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at Branson Primary School at 402 Cedar Ridge Drive, where Jasmine briefly attended school.
“I would love nothing more for all of us to be there making donations for the family and wearing pink & purple!,” a post on the page read. “Please spread the word. Let's make this happen!!! let's meet by the water fountains!! Bring a candle and dress warm.”
Jasmine had enrolled in the Branson school district earlier this month. She was formerly a student at Mann Elementary in Springfield.
Efforts are also being made to raise $7,000 in funeral expenses for Jasmine. $795 had been donated by 20 people at last check.
Court records say that John P. Roberts was free on bond in a burglary case when he allegedly lured Jasmine into his room using snacks. He is being held without bond in Taney County on a first-degree murder charge.
According to a probable cause statement, the girl's body was found Saturday under the bed of a room at the Windsor Inn where Roberts was staying alone. The discovery was made while officers were searching the area after receiving a lost child report. Jasmine was said to be living at the extended stay motel with her mother.
Dr. Brad Swafford, assistant superintendent with Branson Public Schools, called Jasmine a “vibrant kindergartner.” Even though she hadn’t been enrolled at the district long she had become well known by her teachers and class, he said.
Swafford added that the district’s crisis plan has been initiated. School counselors have distributed communication materials to teachers, students and parents that are appropriate in relation to the age of the child for explaining the situation and helping students cope.