The news released Thursday that the body of a young girl reported missing earlier in the week had been found has stunned and angered the Emmett community. Saturday over 200 people lit candles and shared memories of eight-year old Taryn Summers during an evening vigil at Bowman Park in downtown Emmett.
Many in the crowd, some who came from miles away, had no personal relationship with Taryn or her family but came anyway to mourn her passing. A dozen or so classmates and friends shared their memories of her life.
A neighbor whose little girl often played with Taryn, said she “was a sweet innocent little girl with a heart of gold.”
Her elementary school teacher, Vickie Renfro, called her “a delightful bundle of energy.”
“Taryn was a kind, funny, smart, artistic young lady. She loved to play with her friends, and to help others,” Renfro said. “She was very active and liked to swing with her friends. Taryn liked to help her teachers and her classmates whenever she could.”
Shannon Hughes, who with her husband Mike, foster hosted Taryn and three of her siblings for a short time in 2020 said that they “found her to be so willing to help – played with our younger children so lovingly. I don’t recall laughing any harder than during the time they were with us.”
Mike Hughes, who pastors Calvary Chapel, led the crowd in prayer and a sharing of memories. He recalled “feeling blessed to just to get to know Taryn.” He also spoke to those gathered about the “need for each of us to always be aware and engaged when we see something out of place in someone else’s life.”
One tearful girl shared that “we loved swinging on the swings and laughing, she was a really nice girl and a really good friend.”
Another said “she was my friend and she will be missed.”
The vigil memorial will remain throughout this week in the Gazebo at Bowman Memorial Park for others who may want to pay respects or leave a remembrance.
Details of Taryn’s death remain mostly undisclosed by authorities at this time. Those gathered Saturday frequently classified her as the victim of extreme child abuse; pondering how, why, and wondering what they could have done to help.
Vigil organizer Debra Lovelace had no connection to Taryn personally, just compelled by the tragic events to bring the community together. Many in the crowd mentioned their own children or grandchildren as the connection with this child otherwise unknown to them.
A motorcycle club that focuses on child abuse prevention was present in force. The Guardians of the Children club rides with a sobering theme of “Don’t let your silence drown out their cries.”
Taryn had been enrolled at Shadow Butte Elementary until she was withdrawn by her guardian sometime after Christmas to be home schooled.
Emmett School Superintendent Craig Woods issued the following statement after the announcement Thursday that Taryn’s body had been recovered: “We are deeply saddened by tonight’s news and we extend our condolences to the family and friends of Taryn. She was a student within the Emmett School District. We will have counselors available today and in the coming days and weeks to meet with students and staff grieving this sad loss.”