NORRISTOWN, Pa. (CBS) — Hundreds gathered Friday night to remember 10-month-old Zara Scruggs. Police say the baby died after being raped and murdered by her own father.
In Norristown on Friday, it felt like every single person in the community came out to remember the baby girl and honor her family.
It’s impossible to imagine what the family of Zara is going through.
“I can’t sleep. I still wake up at 5,” grandmother Darlene Smith said.
But hundreds of friends, family members and neighbors in Norristown want to make sure they’re not going through it alone.
At least 500 people packed the street in front of the home where Zara, known affectionately as Moo, lived with her mother Erica.
“I just love you all because you all love my baby, and I appreciate everybody,” mother Erica Scruggs said.
Those gathered released thousands of balloons in the infant’s memory, trying to erase the thought of the heinous way she left this world.
“I woke up with my daughter screaming, mom. He says she’s not breathing,” Smith said.
Zara’s father, 29-year-old Austin Stevens, is in jail facing rape, aggravated assault and murder charges.
Investigators say he sexually assaulted his own daughter, and an autopsy showed the baby also suffered blunt force trauma to her head.
“No, we didn’t think nothing bad. Nothing. If I had a clue, no! The love right now, even with his other side of his family. No, no, we never thought anything like this,” Smith said.
But the focus Friday night was not on Stevens or the dastardly crimes police say he committed. It was on supporting Zara’s mother and her grandparents.
“I don’t want no mother to feel what I went through that night,” Smith said. “This is Zara’s night. This is Zara’s night.”