With candles and tears and stories, and the singing of her favorite hymn, “Amazing Grace,” the family of Adrianne Reynolds was joined Wednesday night by an intimate group of supporters in remembering the teen who died 10 years ago at the hands of two of her classmates.
Standing in the parking lot of Black Hawk Outreach in East Moline, the half-hour long vigil brought together a few people with whom Adrianne attended United Township High School and Black Hawk Outreach, an alternative school that offers GED-preparation work.
It also brought people who did not know the teen or her family but wanted to be there to offer support.
Crystal Ely, now 24, was a classmate at United Township until Adrianne went back to her home in Texas. When Adrianne returned to the Quad-Cities, she didn’t want to be behind, Ely said.
“She wanted to graduate on time,” Ely said. “Her dream was to get her diploma. That’s why she went to Black Hawk to get her GED.”
Ely, who now has a career as a mortician working at Orr’s Mortuary in Rock Island, told the crowd of about 25 that the girl from Texas had “a personality that would light up a room and a heart of gold.”
It wasn’t her death Ely wanted to remember, but the gift of Adrianne’s life and the time the two spent together.
As the grandchildren of Tony and Joanna Reynolds, Adrianne’s adoptive father and stepmother, ran around, Joanna said they have kept Adrianne’s room exactly how it was. Looking at the grandchildren she added, “They don’t understand. They just know she’s not here.”
At one point in the vigil, Tony Reynolds played the song “Dancing in the Sky” by Dani and Lizzy that he downloaded from YouTube.
The lyrics, “Cause here on earth it feels like everything good is missing since you left, and here on earth everything’s different there’s an emptiness. I hope you’re dancing in the sky, and I hope you’re singing in the angels’ choir,” affected the small crowd.
“That’s a good song,” Tony Reynolds said when the song ended.
Adrianne Reynolds was killed Jan. 21, 2005, at the age of 16 by Black Hawk schoolmates Sarah Kolb, now 26, and Cory Gregory, now 27.
Among those in the crowd was Andrew Gaudet, the father of Nathan Gaudet. In January 2005, the then-16-year-old Gaudet was recruited by Kolb and Gregory to help dispose of her body after they had attempted to burn her remains and hide their crime.
“He didn’t kill her and he didn’t burn her,” Andrew Gaudet said. “There isn’t a day that has gone by I haven’t thought of Adrianne. Nathan never told his side of the story.”
Nathan Gaudet, who served four years in juvenile custody, died in an automobile accident in Indiana in 2012 at the age of 23.
Tony Reynolds told of when Adrianne was a little girl and he owned a 1969 Ford Mustang, “a hot rod.”
“Adrianne loved riding in it,” Tony Reynolds said. “She’d always tell me to ‘make it mad.’ That meant to burn some rubber.”
Tony Reynolds said that “Amazing Grace” had been Adrianne’s favorite hymn. “She sang it in our garage one time,” he said, sobbing. “It was beautiful. She was a great kid.”
Jeanette Johnson, of Moline, did not know the Reynolds family and had never meet Adrianne. But she attended Wednesday's vigil to support Tony and Joanna.
“I don’t know how either of you two went through this,” Johnson told the Reynolds. “I admire your courage.”
After the vigil, Johnson said that, “No one should have to bury their child for any reason. But this was horrendous.”
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