Dozens of people gathered Saturday night around a memorial made of candles, balloons and roses, with a picture of a young girl at the center. They stood in the cold November air at Hollywood Park, as many held candles and chanted along to a rosary prayer.
The crowd mourned the loss of Evelin Casas, a 16-year-old whose body was found on the grounds of Harney Middle School early Tuesday morning.
Evelin’s mother and stepfather said they do not yet know what happened to their daughter. Some at the vigil speculated that the girl’s death was related to fights or bullying.
“She just wants answers and she just wants justice,” said Marilyn Gutierrez, Evelin Casas’ aunt, who was translating for Evelin’s mother, Fabiola Casas.
Michelle Velazquez remembered Evelin as a teenager whose mom and dog were “her whole world.” Evelin Casas worked for Velazquez for more than a year, helping serve food at Tejuino, inside of Broadacres Marketplace.
Velazquez said the teenager always showed her photos of her dog, a white Chihuahua named Scrappy. She said Evelin was always very receptive to taking directions, and rarely needed to be corrected or even told what to do.
“She was responsible. She was hardworking all the time,” Velazquez said. “I didn’t even have to tell her what to do. She already knew.”
Fabiola Casas said her daughter had saved up $1,000 from working to take classes to become a lash artist, which was her dream. The classes would have started on Saturday.
“She’s just very proud of her daughter,” Gutierrez said, translating for Fabiola Casas.
‘The community is here to help’
On Saturday, Fabiola Casas thanked the community for helping since the tragedy. A GoFundMe she set up in Evelin’s memory had already surpassed its goal of $15,000 as of Saturday night, and two fundraisers have been created to help the family.
Velazquez said that all proceeds from her store on Sunday are going directly to Evelin’s mother. Gutierrez said a fundraiser also will be held on Nov. 19 at the Zurdo Montanez Boxing Gym on Nellis Boulevard, near the intersection with Lake Mead Boulevard.
“Evelin was her baby, her one and only baby, so she’s absolutely devastated,” Gutierrez said, translating for Casas at the vigil. “And it’s really hard for her, but she appreciates that the community is here to help.”
Contact Mark Credico at firstname.lastname@example.org.