The murder of a disabled woman, allegedly at the hands of her own mother and brother leaving a dark cloud over a tight knit community in southern Erie County. Tonight, residents in North Collins want to restore their image and remember a life cut short by tragedy. Channel Seven's Kendra Eaglin is live in the newsroom now with more on our top story.
The emergency squad of the village of North Collins organized a candlelight march tonight. It's an event they say is one of the first steps in restoring the village's tarnished image after a shocking discovery in January.
North Collins, a small southtown village. Population? 3,000.
Residents joined together in a display of solidarity and community spirit for one of their own.
"I just thought and my family thought it'd be nice to support one of our own," said resident Justin Ohara.
And despite what some might think, they say they're a close knit community that looks out for each other.
"I've been here for 30 years, it's really a good community. They are a loving community, they are a caring community," said Kathryn Bley.
But the village is still reeling from the discovery of the body of 23 year old Laura Cummings. Cummings was mentally and physically disabled. In late January, she was found dead in her home. Beaten and strangled to death, police say, at the hands of the very people who were supposed to care for her, Cummings' 51 year old mother and 31 year old brother.
The president of the Emergency Squad Lynn Maciejewski said, "It was just very disturbing that something like that could happen in our community and that people really didn't know about it."
The details of her murder shocked investigators. Police say Cummings' death was the final act of years of alleged physical and sexual abuse. Cummings' mother is accused of beating and suffocating her daughter to death. Cummings' brother is accused of sodomizing and and raping her. Now questions linger, how could this have happened and no one step up to help?
Kathryn Bley blames the system,"I don't think it was so much the community failed them as it was maybe social services... things like that. They were the one's who were in the house, came to the house. They were the one's who really should have been here for her."
And tonight it's the community who is there for Laura.
"She won't be forgotten," said Maciejewski.
They are using their footsteps to honor her memory. Laura's mother and brother are in jail awaiting trial.