Neighborhood holds vigil for 11-year-old girl killed in Ocean View

Posted at 9:54 PM, May 25, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-25 23:30:07-04

NORFOLK, Va. - A neighborhood bonded together to hold a vigil for an 11-year-old girl who was found dead in a Norfolk home last week. A white balloon had dozens of messages of love for Heaven Watkins. Some of them read "Rest in Peace," while others expressed their love for a girl they only met once.

Police said Watkins was found dead in a home on Balview Avenue last week. Her mom, Latoya Smith, and Smith's fiance, Demont Harris, are charged with second-degree murder.

"She couldn't fight back. She couldn't scream she couldn't yell. There was no way to defend herself and for her to die in a manner she died in…it was just heartbreaking," said Dayna Arnold, who said her niece played with Heaven frequently.

Smith was denied bond Friday morning. The neighborhood wanted their block to be changed from a place of tragedy to one of love and hope.

"We didn’t know her that long, but just give her support and show we don't stand for that out here," said Arnold.

Neighbors released pink, purple and white balloons into a cotton candy sky Friday night after saying "Rest in Peace, Heaven."

Heaven's relatives told News 3 she had autism and cerebral palsy, but neighbors say that didn't hold her back. She was engaging and interacted with the other kids.

"When I did find out she had a disability, it amazed me because it didn't stop her from having fun," said Arnold.

Moving forward, a mom wants change. She said Smith and Harris moved in just a few weeks ago, but she's encouraging everyone to report anything suspicious they see.

"Some things cannot be silenced. Some things have to be broken. This felt like [it] could have been broken and the fact about it had been ongoing it... it could have been stopped," said Courtney Branch, who helped organize the vigil.