LONG BEACH, Calif. - An emotional vigil was held in Long Beach Wednesday for 1-year-old Leilani Burley, who was found dead in the Los Angeles River earlier this week, allegedly killed by her own father.
Jayveyon Burley was arrested after officers found the body of his daughter, Leilani Burley, in the LA River below the Ocean Boulevard Bridge, according to Inglewood Police. He was charged with one count each of murder and assault on a child causing death.
Leilani's mother, Lynisha, was inconsolable at her daughter's vigil on Wednesday, but spoke about her disbelief.
"Please help me understand why. Why did you do this to my baby," Lynisha Hull asked. "Leilani, I'm so sorry baby, so sorry. You were with someone who's supposed to protect you, someone who's supposed to love you, someone who you thought you could trust."
Lynisha had a message for Burley who is charged in the murder.
"You're gonna reap what you sow," she said.
Tarethe Hull, Leilani Burley's grandfather, also spoke at the vigil.
"We didn't deserve to lose a precious angel like this," he said. "As a father, I have to be strong for her and I just have to take a break from work and just be there for her."
Tarethe Hull said he can't understand why something like this happened.
"I don't know what was going on in their relationship. It really hurts, and I'll never know the answer but the only person that knows is God," said Tarethe Hull.
Family, friends and community members gathered at the vigil site along the LA River for the vigil and balloon release.
Community activist, Najee Ali, spoke at the vigil too.
"May God give her mother, the family and everyone in the community strength. In tragedy, we also want justice because he must be held accountable for what he did," said Ali.
Jayveyon Burley made his first court appearance Dec. 7, but the arraignment was continued until January 10, DA's office stated.
Officers responded to the home of Jayveyon Burley's mother, with whom he lives, on Sunday around 11 p.m. The mother allegedly told officers that her son went to Long Beach to pick up his two kids from their mother, but when Jayveyon Burley returned, he came back with just one of the children.
The family is raising money to make arrangements for Leilani through a GoFundMe campaign.