GLOUCESTER (CBS) – Hundreds turned out on the Gloucester fishing pier to pray for Caleigh Harrison, the two-and-a-half-year-old girl who disappeared from a Rockport beach three weeks ago.
Investigators believe she was swept out to sea, but family members believe she may have been kidnapped. They remain hopeful that Caleigh will come home.
“A piece of our lives is missing right now. We’ll never, never stop looking for her. I love you Caleigh,” her father Anthony Harrison told the gathered crowd.
They tried in their own symbolic way to send a message to her by lighting candles and lifting lanterns to the sky, many launched from fishing boats.
The poignant moment of song and prayer overwhelmed Caleigh’s young cousins who wept throughout the service.
“Our hearts are lifting up to God. It’s a visual for Caleigh that we’re everywhere. We’re not just here in Gloucester looking for her, we’re everywhere,” said her cousin Katie Bolcome.
Caleigh’s mother Allison Hammond tells WBZ-TV she blames herself everyday for her daughter’s disappearance. She spoke of the guilt of taking her eyes off Caleigh even for a minute as she went to retrieve a ball behind a seawall, saying she keeps running the scenario over and over in her mind.
“I try to shut it down, but it hurts, it happened on my watch and it’s awful,” she said.
It’s been three weeks and a day since she disappeared, and Caleigh’s mother says she knows people are judging her.
“I’m sure they’re judging me, it’s their right. I want people to learn from my mistake,” she said.
The family is clinging to the hope Caleigh is alive and with a stranger, a man the the girl’s four-year-old sister Lizzie claims snatched her from the beach. Her mother believes it could have happened that quickly.
“If someone was watching and taking advantage of a silly mother’s mistake, it’s absolutely possible. My biggest hope is a parent’s worst nightmare. If someone has her it means she’s alive,” she said.