A pickup loaded with large cardboard boxes Wednesday afternoon signaled a mother's grief just a few days after her little girl met a grisly death.
Family and friends of Aliahna Lemmon, the 9-year-old who was found bludgeoned and cut to pieces Monday, were removing the girl's belongings from the mobile home where she lived.
Aliahna's mother, Tarah Souders, couldn't bear to look at her daughter's possessions any longer, so they would be taken to a storage facility, said Allen Souders, the girl's stepfather.
“She just can't stand to be around this stuff after what happened,” he said.
But Souders would not discuss his stepdaughter's death, or the neighbor charged with murdering her, in detail because of the pending investigation.
Michael L. Plumadore, 39, told police he killed Aliahna by striking her in the head multiple times with a brick while she stood on his front step Thursday night, then cut up her body with a hacksaw and stuffed the pieces in freezer bags, according to an affidavit.
He threw some of the body parts in a trash container at a nearby business and hid the rest, including the head, feet and hands, in his freezer, according to the affidavit.
Plumadore had been looking after Aliahna, along with her sister and stepsister, both 6, for about a week while their mother was sick with the flu, the girl's relatives have said.
While friends helped the family pack up Aliahna's belongings Wednesday afternoon, mourners filtered, alone or in pairs, past a makeshift memorial just feet from the spot where Plumadore allegedly murdered her.
One of the mourners, Norma Haskins, said she moved to the mobile home park in June, a few weeks before Aliahna's family, and lives next door to them.
“It feels like a dark cloud has descended on our little community,” she said as tears rolled down her cheeks.
Haskins said Aliahna and the younger girls would often come over to eat peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches and play with her own granddaughters. She said nothing ever seemed unusual about the people who lived next door, and she didn't know much about the alleged killer.
She wouldn't speculate on why Plumadore would have killed Aliahna but said “there must be a devil there” for anyone to hurt a little girl.