Niagara Gazette

Crime

August 27, 2013

Family and friends hold candle light vigil in memory of Isabella Tenant

Niagara Gazette — In a gathering dusk on Duck Island Tuesday night Gina Streck lit a candle.

It was the same candle she had clutched in her hand one year ago, to the day, in the exact same place, after family and friends had come to mourn the murder of little Isabella Tennant.

"This candle represents our vigil from one year ago today," Streck told a small group of on-lookers. "Bella touched our lives in more ways than one. She is with us always."

The disappearance of the 5-year-old in the early morning hours of Aug. 27, 2012, left folks in the Falls shocked and heart-broken. Then the grisly discovery of her body in a trash bag buried in a garbage can in the 500 block alley of Third Street, left even veteran Falls cops shaken.

"It’s a terrible crime. It tears at your heart,” Detective Capt. William Thomson said at the time. “I have grandchildren that are the age of the victim.”

A year later, members of the Tennant family say the slaying has taken a terrible toll on them.

"The past year has been very stressful on all (the family)," Linda Schram said. "Isabella touched everyone in the family."

The little girl's mother left the Falls, not long after the murder, and has not returned from Florida. Schram said she has not spoke to her "much in the last year."

"The situation has ripped the family apart," Schram said. "But we love Crystal (Isabella's mom) and we loved Bella and the support from the community has been overwhelming."

It didn't take police long to identify and charge a suspect. Less than 24 hours after Tennant was reported missing from her great-grandmother's home, detectives arrested a then 16-year-old family friend in connection with the murder.

John Freeman Jr., now 17, was ultimately indicted by a grand jury on charges of second-degree murder and tampering with physical evidence. His close friend, Tyler Best, 18, was charged, as a co-defendant, with tampering with physical evidence and hindering prosecution for helping Freeman dispose of Tennant's body.

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