CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, S.C. — It was an emotional night Wednesday for a Chesterfield County community which gathered to remember and honor an 11-month-old girl found dead last month.
Dozens of people attended a candlelight vigil for Harlee Lewis.
Among those in attendance, Pamela Nelson wept as the community mourned the child's death.
Nelson told reporter Stephanie Tinoco she wasn’t related to the baby by blood, but took in the child and her mother, Breanna Lewis, for nearly eight months.
“She was about two months old. Breanna was a new mother. We had to teach her the ropes. She’s like my great-grandchild,” Nelson said.
Nelson described Harlee as a light that brightened any room. In her eyes, the child was family.
“Harlee was love. Anybody that had the privilege of meeting her or coming across her instantaneously fell in love with her,” she said.
Dozens of people filled the lot outside the Chesterfield County Courthouse to honor Harlee’s life, including Major Briana Davis, one of two people who found Harlee’s lifeless body, feet away from the girl’s home.
"That was the first time I ever experienced -- a baby in a trash bag. There's something about the trash bag I can't get out of my mind," Davis said.
"Even though I didn't know her, it still tugs at your heart. It reminds you of your own children and how much you love them," Chesterfield County Sheriff Jay Brooks said.
Breanna Lewis originally said someone kidnapped her baby, which triggered an Amber Alert, but the sheriff said she later admitted to making up the story.
Breanna Lewis remains behind bars as investigators try to figure out what led up to her daughter’s death.
"Until they get answers, everybody just needs to hold Breanna up in prayer because she's got to live with this for the rest of her life," Nelson said.
The sheriff said there were no signs of injuries to the baby's body and that it could take weeks to determine how she died.
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