• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

Slain girl's memorial in Long Beach to be moved because of complaint

A makeshift memorial that has helped a mother cope with the murder of her young daughter must now be moved.
February 17, 2014 12:00:00 AM PST
A makeshift memorial that has helped a mother cope with the murder of her young daughter must now be moved. Graciella Fernandez has visited the memorial regularly since her daughter Xiomara was murdered in 2012. It has helped her tremendously in her grief. But someone recently complained about it and now the city of Long Beach says it needs to move.

Fernandez visits the memorial to her 9-year-old daughter several times a week.

"My baby died in this place, not in another place," said Fernandez.

She says she comes to pray and meditate, because her daughter took her last breath there. Fernandez's husband is charged with killing Xiomara to prevent her from coming forward about alleged sexual molestation.

"I think it helps her because it reminds her about her. If I forget about her, then that's forgetting all the bad things that happened," said Xiomara's sister Perla.

But now city officials say they've gotten a complaint, and plan to move the memorial off the public property. They say they've been working with the church to move it onto church property across the street:

"We absolutely understand the family's grief and their desire to have a place to remember their daughter. However, there are laws about maintaining the public right of way for public services. We have a responsibility to fulfill the law and apply it equally now that we have been made aware of the memorial through a resident complaint," said Long Beach Deputy City Manager Tom Modica. "As a solution, we have been working to locate the memorial in the Church parking lot, closer to where the incident occurred. Long Beach has promised to beautify the public area by planting trees. We believe this solution will allow for a memorial, while beautifying the area and maintaining the use of public right of way for public purposes. This solution should be in place within the next few weeks."

The memorial started when Fernandez planted a vine after Xiomara's death in 2012. Then community members added a bench, more plants and a bird bath.

"We thought whoever did it was really nice because they were seeing my mom going every week, and I guess that's how they decided to put it there," said Alma, another sister.

Though the family says they take comfort in knowing that there will still be a memorial, they say it hurts them that this tribute to Xiomara could be dismantled and moved.

"When I went there, I felt sad, but at the same time I felt like she would come back one day somehow," said sister Perla.


Load Comments