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Community mourns little girl's death

Abducted child remembered as a 'princess' who made all her friend

After a massive, eight-day search for a missing little girl whose family had recently joined the Church, hundreds gathered at an LDS meetinghouse to mourn her death.

Friends and family members follow pallbearers down the steps of the Second Ward Chapel of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints following the funeral service for Destiny Norton  July 29, 2006.  Destiny went missing July 16th and was eventually found 8 days later on Juiy 25th in the basement of a neighbors home.   Keith Johnson/Deseret Morning News
Friends and family members follow pallbearers down the steps of the Second Ward Chapel of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints following the funeral service for Destiny Norton July 29, 2006. Destiny went missing July 16th and was eventually found 8 days later on Juiy 25th in the basement of a neighbors home. Keith Johnson/Deseret Morning News Photo: Deseret Morning News

Destiny Norton, 5, disappeared July 16, prompting a volunteer search that included people of varied faiths and ended when the child was found murdered two doors away from her Salt Lake City home.

Craig Roger Gregerson, 20, is charged with aggravated murder, a capital offense, and first-degree felony child kidnapping in connection with the case.

Destiny's parents, Ricky and Rachel Norton, had gotten married two weeks prior to Destiny's disappearance, and Ricky Norton was baptized as a member of the Church just the day before.

Pictures of the little girl dancing at her parent's wedding were seen on dozen's of media reports about her disappearance. Three weeks after those pictures were taken, a funeral was held for Destiny in the same meetinghouse.

At the funeral, members of the little girl's Primary class sang "Holding Hands Around the World," a song Destiny had sung in Church just a week before she vanished.

In short remarks the Nortons' friends and family — including her pregnant mother — said Destiny was a brilliant, energetic, friendly girl with a sweet and playful spirit, who loved to learn, dance and hoped to grow up to be a veterinarian.

"She was going to make you her friend whether you liked it or not," said Bishop Bill Silver of the Second Ward, Salt Lake Liberty Stake, and a Salt Lake police detective who investigated Destiny's disappearance. "And she always had to be wearing a princess dress . . . she was a princess."

After the funeral, family and friends had a tree planted in the midst of five grown maple trees outside the meetinghouse as a symbolic gesture.

"She is now in the hollow of the Lord's hand," said Bishop Silver.

Destiny's father was the first to take a shovel and place a mound of dirt at the base of the tree. He was followed by dozens of family and friends who each picked up the shovel and spread some dirt.

Amber Alert issued for Destiny Norton, 5-years old missing girl.
Amber Alert issued for Destiny Norton, 5-years old missing girl.

Bishop Silver said Destiny's plight had drawn together hundreds of people from all walks of life. "If there is any question as to whether this community can put aside our differences and come together . . . I think this case is proof that they can," he said.

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