Candlelight vigil held to honour 11-year-old Riya Rajkumar
Chris Fox, CP24.com
Published Saturday, February 16, 2019 11:33AM EST
Last Updated Saturday, February 16, 2019 7:55PM EST
Dozens stood in the cold at a candlelight vigil in Mississauga Saturday night to honour the memory of an 11-year-old girl who was found dead following an Amber Alert.
Riya Rajkumar was found deceased inside a Brampton residence late Thursday night following a frantic search.
Her father was later taken into custody near Orillia and charged with first-degree murder in her death.
Police had previously said that Rajkumar was supposed to be celebrating her birthday with her father, Roopesh Rajkumar, but was not returned to the custody of her mother by the agreed upon time.
Her father then allegedly made comments to the mother indicating that he planned to do harm to Riya or himself, police say.
A patch of Meadowvale Village Green was covered with roses and candles Saturday night.
The park is located a short distance from Meadowvale Public School, where Rajkumar was enrolled as a Grade 5 student.
Faye Oxley came from North York with a friend to honour Rajkumar’s memory.
“The loss of a little girl is such a hard thing,” she said. “It was on her birthday, it was on Valentine’s Day.”
She said she didn’t know Riya or the family, but the loss hit her hard and was compounded by people who complained about the Amber Alert waking them up.
“Seeing the negative posts on social media of people being inconvenienced and woken up because of the Amber Alert, it just really hit hard for me.”
She suggested some of those who complained were missing the point of the alert in the first place.
“People seem to have forgotten what community is all about.”
Small children held roses in front of the candles, while older teens embraced each other, some on the verge of tears.
The vigil was one of two events planned to commemorate Rajkumar.
Brampton city councillor Rowena Santos is also organizing a community vigil in Garden Square in downtown Brampton Tuesday night. That event was scheduled to take place between 5:45 p.m. and 7 p.m.
“We are gathering the artists, the business community, the residents all throughout the city to make sure that we remember Riya in the most beautiful way,” Santos told CP24 on Saturday morning.
Makeshift memorial forms
As the larger community continues to struggle to come to grips with the shocking murder of Riya Rajkumar, a makeshift memorial has formed outside the Hansen Road home where she was found dead.
On Saturday morning a steady stream of people could be seen approaching a telephone pole outside the home and leaving flowers, balloons and other items in memory of Rajkumar.
“It is so upsetting that this could actually happen,” Michelle Lander told CP24 after visiting the site with her partner. “The 11-year-old trusted her father, she had her whole life ahead of her. It’s heartbreaking.
Roopesh Rajkumar, 41, was taken to hospital after being transferred into the custody of Peel police on Friday morning due to an unspecified medical issue. Police say that he is expected to remain in hospital throughout the weekend.
His case will be in court Tuesday, though it remains unclear whether he will appear in person.