Herbert Putnam placed the small candle at the spot where the flag in memory of murdered children was raised shortly after the death of his niece, Tiffany Sue Banks Cross, three years ago.
Putnam quietly remarked that the flag has been raised too many times in Trumbull County as too many children have fallen to violence.
The Warren man was among 20 people who gathered Tuesday for a candlelight vigil for the child at Courthouse Square in downtown Warren. Tiffany was 21 months old when she was killed by her foster mother, Bonnie Pattinson, on April 2, 2009.
Candlelight honors the late Tiffany Sue Banks Cross who was in CSB custody when she was killed
"I placed a candle there last year and I will do the same next year and every year after that," he said. "It's to let (Tiffany) know I love her and that I miss her."
He was the first of several people to leave candles at the site on Tuesday.
Tiffany grandmother, Loretta Banks, has organized the vigil the past two years.
Loretta Banks of Warren, left, grandmother of Tiffany Sue Banks Cross, is comforted by Pastor Tom Razum of Warren on Tuesday at the conclusion of a candlelight vigil.
Photo by R. Michael Semple
"I want everyone to remember Tiffany, to keep her memory alive," she said. "But I also want people to remember what happened to her. I don't want this to happen to any other child. I don't want another family to have to go through this."
Banks said she wanted the vigil to be near the Trumbull County Jail this year. Tiffany's mother, Felicia Banks Beemer, is being held in jail on rape and other charges that could land her in prison for life. Banks and husband, Cody Beemer, have been charged with raping two relatives, both younger than 2 years.
Banks said the vigil is also for a granddaughter who remains in the custody of the Trumbull County Children Services Board. A hearing to determine whether Banks will receive visitation rights to see the 19-month-old child is scheduled for 1 p.m. today. Banks is also seeking to have the child's case transferred out of Trumbull County to another CSB.
"I've seen her three, maybe four times," Banks said. "That's it. They won't let me see her, but these children are hurt in their care, not mine."
CSB allowed Tiffany to be placed in the foster home of Bonnie Pattinson of Newton Falls. Pattinson pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in 2009, after initially being charged with murder. Investigators found Tiffany dead from asphyxiation with multiple blunt traumatic injuries.
Pattinson was sentenced to serve nine years in prison.
"I'm not even allowed to know where my grandchild is," Banks said. "I haven't even seen her in eight or nine months.
Tom Razum of Warren, a pastor at Doers of the Word Baptist Church in Newbury, said he was at the vigil to support Banks and her family and encourage other community members to pray for them.
"This is such a difficult situation," he said. "We need to think of all of the family members involved here, but especially children. We need to pray for them. We need to think about them and remember them."