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Vigil for murdered Jacksonville 8-year-old

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Updated: 6/24/2013 11:36 am

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- When three of Cherish Perrywinkle's friends from Sunday School sang "Jesus Loves Me" during a candelight vigil, nearly all of the 500 attendees joined in.

Then, her 5-year-old sister sang her favorite song, "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star." It was a fitting tribute to a little girl that family says was affectionate and loving.

Her family says the service showed them they are not alone in their struggles.

"I was expecting maybe 50 people and I was shocked," said Ahron Pearson, the long-time fiance of Rayne Perrywinkle, Cherish's mother.

Perrywinkle was too shaken to speak to Action News during the service Sunday but, Pearson said, the community support has been overwhelming in recent days.

"It's heartwarming. It's very heartwarming. I'm trying not to break down in front of everybody."

Pearson tried to stay strong for Cherish's mom and two younger sisters, as the community joined together with candles and in prayer to remember a loving little girl.

"She's so smart. So loving and always so happy."

He had no idea the impact little Cherish would have on complete strangers, and now, knowing this kind of support is behind his family, he says they can move forward and find a way to keep Cherish's memory alive.

"I'm glad that we have some kind of closure and there's a lot of families out there and their child is missing and they haven't found them."

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