ORANGE PARK, Fla. -- The community of Orange Park will gather Friday evening to remember one of their own.
Somer Thompson disappeared on her way home from school three years ago this Friday. Her body was found in a Georgia landfill days later.
Today, her story continues to touch the lives of those who searched for her, especially Capt. Joe Bucci of the Clay County Sheriff's Office. He was the Commanding Officer in charge of finding her.
"What I remember was the sense of family that day. Everybody was doing everything they could to help look for Somer, help the sheriffs office, help each other, and help the Thompson family. Everybody was focused on the same goal, and that was trying to bring Somer home."
Bucci says the outcome was his worst nightmare, but he believes great things have come from Somer's story.
"We look to try to educate other law enforcement agencies around the state and the country, and we hope that we can give them some guidance to respond to child abductions. People in the community are also more aware and alert, because we would have never thought that an individual like Jared Harrell would live in our community."
Even today, Bucci regularly visits the Somer Sunshine Park, built on the very street where so many people searched for her three years ago.
"Just to drive by here is great. It's a beautiful place to honor her life and it's good that she'll never be forgotten."
A fall festival and vigil for Somer Thompson will be held at Moosehaven in Orange Park from 5 to 10 p.m. Friday. The event features entertainment for the entire family, and is organized by The Somer Thompson Foundation, which works to raise awareness of the fight against child predators.