MOUNT VERNON — At two locations in Mount Vernon on Monday evening, friends and family members of Tina Herrmann, Sarah Maynard, Kody Maynard, and Stephanie Sprang, as well as members of the community, gathered to pray for their safe return.
Get audio from the press conferences, see images of the investigation and search, a map of key events and related stories.
A prayer vigil, not open to the media, was held at South Vernon Methodist Church. The church filled quickly, as people gathered to remember the four who were missing since last Wednesday from an Apple Valley home.
Thirteen-year-old Sarah Maynard was rescued from a Columbus Road home early Sunday. Her mother, brother, and family friend are all still missing, and investigators fear they may not be found alive.
On Public Square, some of the people who gathered at the prayer vigil held there Monday evening said they knew some of the people taken from the home. Others didn’t know any of the people involved, but said they felt the need to come just the same.
“We don’t know them personally, but we know people that know them,” said Megan Sowul of Mount Vernon. “It’s really sad. We have a nephew that’s actually 10, and we can’t imagine if this happened to him.”
Several in the crowd said they were parents, and the case touched them very personally since it involves mothers and children.
“We have children, and we would certainly want people praying for us,” said Jay Berger, who stood and prayed with his wife, Betty. The couple drove from Mount Liberty to the vigil.
“We came because we thought it was our duty and who else can we turn to but our heavenly father,” said Jay Berger.
“We don’t know the family, but we’ve been praying at home for them,” explained Betty Berger.
Some in the crowd wiped away tears as Pastor Dennis Eggerton spoke, and then prayed with the group.
“It may seem as if God doesn’t know what’s happening right now, but he knows exactly what’s going on, and his love reaches out to the family members who are missing at this time,” Eggerton told the group.
Eggerton, whose wife Genelle is the principal at East Knox Elementary, told the group he knew one of the people quite well, for years.
“My heart is breaking at this time,” he told the crowd.
“We’re all upset,” Cameron Keller, of Mount Vernon, said as he stood with friends. “We’re just completely taken aback by what’s happened in our small town. I just can’t believe something like this could happen in Mount Vernon.”
“Lord, it’s times like these that people of God turn to you,” the pastor prayed.
Praying for the missing and their families, Eggerton spoke of strength and wisdom.
“Father, with our troubled hearts we come to you,” he continued. “Father be with them. Give them strength. Father keep us as a community ready to come alongside when the time is right, and teach us to bear the burden.”
Eggerton urged those gathered to continue praying, for strength and comfort.
“We cry out to you at times like this when we have nowhere else to go,” he prayed.
“You are known as the comforter,” he said ending the prayer. “Be with the ones who need you the most.”