As the investigation continues into the death of Kami Ring, the 10-year-old girl whose body was found near Port Deposit on Monday, friends, relatives and neighbors remembered her as a quiet, nice little girl who was devoted to her two siblings.
More than 200 people attended a vigil in the girl's memory held next to water in Charlestown on Wednesday night.
Kami lived in the 600 block of Bladen Street in Charlestown. She recently completed the fourth grade at Charlestown Elementary School, which she attended with her younger half-brother Joe and half-sister Elizabeth.
"Nobody referred to them as half and steps," said Kami's great aunt, Nancy Flemming of Bensalem, Pa., outside of Philadelphia. "That was her brother and sister."
Flemming said Kami and her brother and sister would come to visit her and her husband Robert and other relatives in Pennsylvania a few times a year.
"I have good memories and I just know she was very caring to Joey and Elizabeth and always watched over them," Flemming said.
Neighbor Ann Holloway, who also works at Charlestown Elementary, said in a telephone interview Wednesday that Kami would often greet her when coming home with her brother and sister.
"She would just say, 'Hi Miss Holloway,' " she recalled.
Holloway described Kami as "a very quiet, very nice little girl" when at school and in the neighborhood.
"Everybody's in shock, can't believe it," Holloway said of the community reaction. "It's just so very sad; it's just unbelievable."
Kami had been staying at a home in the 100 block of Waibel Road, just north of Port Deposit, where her body was found in a field near a shed Monday evening.
The window of the bedroom where she was supposedly sleeping was found open about 7 inches, with the screen pushed out, Maryland State Police spokeswoman Elena Russo said Wednesday. She would not say whether kidnapping was suspected, however.
"We certainly think there was foul play involved," Russo said.
Although a suspect was taken into custody, no charges have been filed.
Russo said she did not know how long Kami had been visiting the three residents of the home, two of whom she knew as her "grandparents," although they were not biologically related.
A third person in the home, whom Russo identified as 29-year-old Richard Madden, the couple's son. Russo confirmed Madden was arrested Monday, the same day Kami's body was found, and charged with possessing marijuana, other drugs and drug paraphernalia.
Russo would not say if Madden is the person in custody or if anyone in the home was suspected in the murder. Maryland online court records indicate Madden was still being held at the Cecil County Detention Center in Elkton late Wednesday afternoon on $10,000 bail from the drug charges.
Russo said investigators are waiting for forensics and are hoping the results would come in Friday. Kami's body was taken to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore for an autopsy.
Investigators seemed to have taken a break from combing the area around Waibel and Dr. Jack roads by Wednesday morning. The area was empty of cones, tape or other signs of police activity.
On Tuesday, cars approaching Waibel Road from Route 276 or from Dr. Jack Road were being detoured while investigators, some using metal detectors, searched the area. The area of Waibel Road where the body was found has a number of homes set back in the woods, but the street is used as a cut-through by motorists and thus fairly heavily traveled.
Russo could not say Wednesday if investigators found anything or explain why they had cleared the area, at least for now. She said they will continue to search for evidence as the investigation goes on.
"I don't think they are done," she added.
Vigil held Wednesday
It was a somber scene as family, friends and community members gathered for Wednesday night's vigil in Charlestown's Long Point Park.
A small memorial was set up next to the flagpole in the middle of the park, with candles lit around two large photographs of Kami, one taken of her standing at the very same spot.
Pastor Scott Stevens, Mission Outreach Director at Shoes 2 Share in Newark, Delaware, read the opening prayer, asking everyone to remember the light that Kami brought to those she met.
Pastor Dennis Gilbert from Charlestown Baptist Church, which Kami attended, spoke about how innocence interrupted by evil was nothing new in history, noting that it went back to Adam and Eve.
Doree Hepner sang "Amazing Grace" and "This Little Light of Mine," asking every child to hold their candles high in the air as she sang the latter.
Members of the audience were invited to speak about Kami. At times, audience members were brought to tears and sobs, as children, one of Kami's teachers and staffers from the Boys and Girls Club of Cecil County shared their memories. Kami participated in Boys & Girls Clubs programs at her school.
"My sister was a big friend of Kami's. It's always 'Kami, Kami, Kami,' " said David Poole, a student at Charlestown Elementary School, to chuckles from the audience. "She was such a great person; she had such a great personality; she always had a smile on her face."
"I tell all my kids on the very first day of school 'I will learn more from you than I ever will teach you in 180 days,' " said Kim Edler, who taught Kami this past school year, as she choked back tears. "And I feel like that is the testament today; that I have learned more from Kami than I probably ever taught her."
Funeral set for Monday
Funeral arrangements have been made with Crouch Funeral Home P.A. of North East. Anyone interested in making donations for funeral costs is encouraged to call the Boys and Girls Clubs' administrative office in Elkton at 410-398-5076.
Services will take place at noon Monday, June 17, at the funeral home, 127 S. Main St., in North East. Visitation will be held at 9 a.m., according to an obituary posted on the Crouch website.
Donations also can be mailed to Boys and Girls Club of Cecil County, 101 East Main Street, Elkton, MD 21921; Kami Ring Fund should be written in the memo line, the obituary states.
Anyone with more information on the case can call the Maryland State Police North East Barrack at 410-996-7800. Calls will remain confidential.
Aegis correspondent Hafiz Rashid contributed to this article.