The Kansas City Star, Jan. 4, 2003
By RUSS PULLEY
A vigil for 9-year-old Brian Edgar began Saturday with a moment of silence and a prayer circle across the street from the church where his parents, both accused of his murder, were pastors.
Neil and Christy Edgar are each charged with first-degree murder and abuse of their three other children.
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Chasity L. Boyd, who authorities think might have been the Edgars’ baby sitter, also is charged with first-degree murder in Brian’s death.
Kansas City, Kan., police released no new information Saturday about the investigation.
At Saturday’s vigil, about 50 persons, young and old, from Kansas and Missouri, gathered in a vacant lot near a growing memorial of stuffed animals for Brian.
Community leader Alonzo Washington, who organized the vigil, said he wanted the focus of the gathering to be on Brian. He urged community members to report signs of any suspected child abuse.
He scolded members of the God’s Creation Outreach Ministry for their support of their pastors, the Edgars, while hardly mentioning grief for Brian.
Washington said that during a vigil Wednesday in the same vacant lot, church members across the street began chanting “Jesus,” disrupting a moment of silence for Brian.
On Saturday, Washington recalled victims of child abuse, including Precious Doe, Pamela Butler, and Larry and Gary Bass, two brothers who were starved to death by their mother.
“We are here to stand up and say, `Kids are not supposed to die in our community,’ ” Washington said.
Minutes later, about a dozen more mourners arrived, members of the church that has been under a spotlight since Brian’s death. They walked solemnly across the street.
Clifford A. Jackson, a church official now in charge of the congregation, and others added their own stuffed animals to the memorial and joined the circle.
Dana Washington, Alonzo’s wife, offered a prayer that asked for the truth, for justice and for people to have courage to intervene if they think child abuse is in a home.
Alonzo Washington said Kansas officials and agencies need to become more accountable in screening potential foster or adoptive parents and more responsive to reports of child abuse.
Others echoed their remarks. Some said they knew the Edgars and at first disbelieved the news but now had more questions as the investigation unfolds.
As the crowd drifted away, Jackson was being interviewed by a television reporter.
Jackson was saying the church isn’t a cult, but a Bible-believing organization, when Washington interrupted and stepped into the picture.
Washington repeated his complaint that the church supported the pastors while trying to disrupt his earlier rally.
“You guys are coming out now — it’s amazing,” Washington said.
Jackson ended the television interview and walked away.
Jackson later denied Washington’s accusation that church members were disrupting the earlier vigil and said Washington was manipulating the situation.
“It’s not a vigil on behalf of the child; it’s a mob crowd in the name of publicity,” Jackson said of Washington’s event.
Jackson then added, referring to his church group: “These people have more dignity and respect for their God, their church, and for little Brian.”
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