SCOTTSDALE, AZ — Community members came together to honor an 11-year-old boy who lost his life tragically at a Scottsdale hotel last week.
Song, prayers, and taking action...
Former educator, Laurie Staalberg, questions that. "I thought, I have to do something. So, I went shopping and got the supplies and balloons and everything and I posted on Nextdoor," said Staalberg, who helped plan Sunday night's vigil.
"We need to give closure to him and send some good energy and love, healing, to this community, to this family and the little boy's brother," said Courtney Lage, a vigil organizer.
Some were familiar with the children; others were only familiar with the tragic situation.
"I want the deceased 11-year-old boy to not be forgotten. I'm not going to forget him," stated Staalberg.
Police say dispatchers received a 911 call from his grandmother last Sunday, telling them she had found the boy unresponsive in the bathtub of their room at the Extended Stay in Scottsdale.
First responders tried to save him, but it was too late. Police also say numerous other injuries were visible.
"These boys were always covered with sunglasses and hats and head-to-toe long clothing. They just didn't act right; they didn't act like children their age. They weren't out playing; they were very isolated," said Lage.
The family had been living at the hotel for several years. The boy's grandma, 51-year-old Stephanie Davis, and her husband, 33-year-old Thomas Desharnais were both arrested in connection to the boy's death.
"Be educated on the fact that we need to definitely speak out, we need to report these things," added Lage.
"Report it. It only takes a few minutes, calling the child abuse hotline, and it starts a paper trail," Staalberg stated.
The Arizona Department of Child Safety says it received three abuse complaints in 2017 but found no evidence of wrongdoing.
"Who dropped the ball? Who dropped the ball In between 2017 and 2022? These boys were living in terror and fear, and they were not in the school system, which is where, normally, are the mandatory reporters. Teachers are the ones who report usually but, these kids we're not being schooled," said Staalberg.
Community members are also looking into possibly holding a funeral for the boy, to continue honoring him.