Hundreds of people gathered Sunday in the Colorado City Middle School gym to remember slain teen Hailey Dunn.
She disappeared on Dec. 27, 2010. Her remains were found near Lake JB Thomas in Scurry County. On April 26, authorities positively identified the remains.
Hearts were heavy at the memorial service. Several people who knew her best stood up to share their fondest memories and stories of her.
Colorado City Middle School Principal Mark Merrell called the memorial a celebration of life. The middle school was the last school that she attended.
The memorial opened with prayers from First Christian Church Pastor Monte Wike and appreciation for her life that ended too soon.
The gym and parts of the school were decorated in orange and purple, which were also the Hope for Hailey group’s colors. Pictures of Hailey were displayed including her cheerleading uniform.
Her coach said, "She would always give 100 percent and did everything she could to please her coaches and team."
Teachers remembered their experiences with Hailey at Colorado Middle School. A key theme in their memories of Hailey was that she loved her familiy.
"She even wrote him a note in that textbook, over the entire back cover of the textbook,” teacher Audra Maxwell said. "It says,
‘I love my big brother.’"
In a video message, Hailey's mother Billie Jean Dunn recalled the special times she shared with her daughter.
"Very early she kept us entertained," said Dunn. "She was so full of love, life and a little mischief. To my sweet Hailey, thank you Hailey for being my baby and I'll love you forever and a day and I'll see you in my dreams."
Hailey's death also affected people who didn't know her, but are a part of the Colorado City community.
Colorado City resident Chelsea Martinez said, "I felt like I needed to be here you know because this town went through a whole lot of shock.”
Hailey's best friend Heather Ruth never gave up hope that Hailey would be found. She's still looking forward to their reunion.
"I can't wait till the next time to see you," she said. "I'm going to miss you a lot – and I love you."
"Bikers Against Child Abuse" (BACA) and the Guardians came out in large numbers to show their support. Classmates of Hailey who helped get the word out of her disappearance and help find her circled the stage with candles. One friend said he's hurting from her loss.
"She should still be here," Andrew Burolla said. "That shouldn't have happened."
By the end of the service, the entire gym was lit up with candles remembering Hailey. She would have turned 16 this August.