One by one, they added to the growing memorial.
A little girl lay down a bouquet of flowers. A family brought balloons. Others came with candles, stuffed animals and handmade cards.
About 50 people gathered Sunday night at Carson Elementary School in Puyallup for a vigil to remember Charlie and Braden Powell. Charlie was in first grade at the school. Braden had yet to start school.
They told stories about the boys, shed tears and hugged. A pastor led the group in a prayer and the hymn Amazing Grace.
In difficult times it helps to come together, said the pastor, Jesse Lowery, of Puyallup Foursquare Church.
Kristi Murray brought her children. Her daughter Brooklyn, 6, was in Charlies class. The two were good friends.
Brooklyn was sad and didnt feel like talking to a reporter about her classmate. But her mom described Charlie as a sweet boy who like school.
Murray volunteers in the classroom and recently helped the first-graders make valentines.
The red paint stained Charlies hands, and he asked to use a different kind next time, Murray said.
It was really cute. He was so concerned, she said, pausing to wipe tears from her eyes. Murray said she struggled to explain what happened to the Powell boys to her children.
It makes you hug your kids closer, she said.
In Kearns, Utah, about 50 people also gathered for a vigil at Oquirrh Hills Elementary School. One woman in the crowd, Cheyenne Miller, said she didnt know Susan Cox Powell or her sons, but followed the case of Susans disappearance.
Whenever a child dies a violent death and an early death, every child has a right to have somebody come out and remember them for who they were and who they should have been allowed to be, she said.
In Puyallup, Jess Liebentritt stood near the flickering candles. The Tacoma woman didnt know the Powell boys, but grew up with Susan Powell and was in touch with her sister, Denise Cox.
Liebentritt said shed bought Christmas gifts for the Powell boys, but hadnt yet been able to get them to Denise.
Theyre still sitting on my washer, Liebentritt said.
She said her heart breaks for her friends family.
They dont know where their daughter is and now... she said, her voice trailing off. How much do they have to take? Were holding them in our hearts.
The Salt Lake Tribune contributed to this report.
Sara Schilling: 253-552-7058 firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/street