Nearly one year after the shocking murders of a 7-year-old girl and her 21-year-old uncle, family members are making sure their loved ones’ memories will never fade.
Saturday morning, family, friends and several volunteers got to work on a beautification project on East 10th Street for Kyleigh and Jeremy Crane.
With backing from the town of Cumberland, the Crane family adopted two medians near Washington Square Mall, where Jeremy Crane worked. At the crack of dawn Saturday morning, the small army of volunteers began planting trees and bushes to honor Kyleigh and Jeremy.
Cathy Crane, Jeremy’s mother and Kyleigh’s grandmother, explained the significance.
“My son’s favorite color was blue, Kyleigh’s favorite color was green,” Cathy said. “And we’re planting red rose bushes because of her fiery red hair.”
Kyleigh’s father, Joshua, said projects like this help to keep the family focused on positive thoughts and memories.
“It keeps us busy,” he said. “We’re trying to do something good. We don’t want to just sit around.”
The timing of the project was also significant for the family. Not only is the one year anniversary of the murders coming up in November, but Kyleigh would have turned 8 years old on Oct. 25.
“Thursday, you know all morning we were sad,” Cathy Crane said. “Today is trying to make something beautiful happen for both of them.”
The medians were also fitted with a memorial sign, bearing the names of Kyleigh and Jeremy.
Volunteers supporting the effort included a town landscaper and members of the Cumberland Police Department.
“It becomes personal when you’re a police officer and you’re involved in a crime such as this,” said Cumberland Police Lt. Roger Waggoner. “Certainly involving Kyleigh who was a little girl.”
Last November, investigators believe Kyleigh and Jeremy were killed for a Playstation 3 gaming system, which was later sold with an X-Box for $40 and an ounce of marijuana.
The two suspects in the case, Joshua Priel and Michael Bell, are still awaiting separate murder trials.
The Crane family knows there are difficult days ahead as those trials approach, but in the meantime, they’re counting this as one of the good days.
“We don’t want them to be forgotten,” Joshua said. “They were beautiful people. My little girl was going to be something big. She was like little super genius. And my brother was always so nice.”