Justice for Justis: Family, friends and Fergus Falls residents honor 6-year-olds life
FERGUS FALLS Minn.—Hundreds of people packed a church Monday night to honor a 6-year-old who's life was cut painfully short last week.
As two people sit in jail charged with his murder, family, and people who never knew Justis Burland took part in a candlelight vigil.
Not many people in Fergus Falls knew Justis, but what happened in his final hours have left the community in shock.
"Being a husband, a father, a grandfather and a great grandpa, it just makes you realize how much more important your own family is," says Dean Erkenbrack, Fergus Falls resident. "We're here to support the boys, and the only way we know how is through prayer."
Justis's cousin, Kayloni Burland, stepped up to tell Fergus Falls about what the young boy was like.
"Those two little boys have the biggest hearts I have ever seen in a child. They would smile and light up the room anywhere they went," said Kayloni Burland, Justis's cousin.
Vigil leaders tell WDAY 6 News the community felt a lot of anger when it happened, she hopes that anger and blaming are set aside.
"Focusing on one goal, and that goal is to have all of us leave here feeling hopeful and better than we did when we walked in," said Shawna Zelinsky.
But not everyone can let go of the anger.
"Otter Tail County needs to be investigated," said a member of Burland's vigil.
It's a sentiment shared by Justis's family, but their main focus now is ensuring his twin brother Xavier is kept safe.
"I want to take him home, I want to be able to see him. I know they won't let us, but I want to take him home," said Norma Burland, Justis's grandmother.
Justice for Justis could be heard cried out by the people here, and it is the message family hopes is sent home.
"You can't wait one or two weeks to go check up on a phone call for a child that's in danger. That's ridiculous. They should have responded the day they got the call," said Greg Hill, Justis's Uncle.
"Justis could have been saved if they just went. If they would have just went to the house and checked up on him when we called, they would have been okay. He would be with us right now," said Kayloni.
"We want this to get to the House of Representatives," said Hill.
"We want the CPS to have a database nationwide," said Kayloni.
Family members who traveled more than a thousand miles to get to this vigil hope it inspires people across the country to spark change, and make a national database for child protective services.