Those who knew and loved Amber Dubois celebrated her love of animals - especially wolves - books and friends at a memorial for the
slain 14-year-old at Escondido High Schooay on Saturday.
Nearly 500 mourners, seated in chairs and grandstand benches, gathered under 80-degree sunny skies for the 1 p.m. ceremony at a football stadium decked out in flowers and blue ribbons.
The child had been carrying a check for $200 to buy a lamb for a 4-H
project when she disappeared Feb. 13, 2009, while she was walking to school. A sheep brought to the memorial bleated during the second outdoor memorial service for slain San Diego County girls in two weeks.
Her father, Maurice Dubois, challenged "everyone who has ever shed a
tear for Amber" and other slain children to take action to strengthen and enforce laws against sex offenders.
"We need to protect the children we have left," Dubois said.
Mark Klass, whose 11-year-old daughter Polly was kidnapped and killed in Petaluma in 1993, acted as host of the ceremonies for Amber, and also encouraged people to hold politicians accountable for the laws.
"Her light was extinguished by evil," Klaas said. "We have to find
out who did this to this girl and prosecute them to the full extent of the law."
Massive search efforts over 13 months failed to yield any clues about
Dubois until a tip earlier this month led to the March 6 discovery of her remains in Pala, about 25 miles north of her home.
Convicted sex offender John Albert Gardner III, 30, is suspected in her death and also is charged in the rape and death and of Poway teenager Chelsea King, who was attacked while running at Lake Hodges on Feb. 25. Her body was found in a shallow grave on the lakeshore five days later.
Amber's friends and young cousins talked about her love also of wolves and other animals. To honor her passion, a menagerie of animals was displayed at the football arena, including Frankie, a black wolf, and the sheep that bleated during the service.
The cover of the program for the memorial featured one of Amber's
drawings of a wolf.
A local band, The Heroes, played during a video tribute to Dubois shown on large screens near her giant poster images.
Amber's mother, Carrie McGonigle, thanked Escondido police and others
for their support, but added that "the past 13 months have been extremely difficult."
Klass described McGonigle and Dubois as "two people fiercely determined to answer that question, 'Where's Amber?'"
A teenage friend of Amber, Taylor Doyle, said she and Amber shared
interests in the "Twilight" popular book series and the movie, "Horses."
"We were supposed to be friends forever, going through our ups and
downs no matter what," Doyle told a reporter before the ceremony.
The 1-hour, 45-minute memorial came to a close with the release of doves by the parents of the slain children. Mark and Violet Klaas held a single white dove, and boosted it in the air in memory of daughter Polly. Damon and Brenda Van Dam released a dove for their daughter, Danielle, kidnapped in Poway and murdered in 2002.
Brent and Kelly King released a dove for Chelsea, and Dubois and
McGonigle released one for Amber.
Dubois family spokeswoman Rebecca Smith flung a dove into the air "for all the children that remain missing" and Amber's sister, Allison, and cousins, released dozens more doves that flapped away over the silent mourners' heads.