Hundreds of people packed the John Glenn Elementary School cafeteria Wednesday night for a dinner benefiting the family of fourth-grader Jasmen Gonzalez, who was abducted and fatally stabbed in Texas last month.
The school's Parent Teacher Association hosted the dinner in hopes of helping the family with funeral and transportation costs.
Elvira and Hector Gonzalez sat in front of the stage and wore purple shirts in remembrance of their daughter. Purple was Jasmen's favorite color.
Shana Smith, dance instructor for the Yumare Mexican Folkloric Dancers Inc., said the dinner was a way for the community to come together and show support.
“We want to make everything a little easier for them,” Smith said. “I would like to see the whole community embrace each other a little more.”
She said her dancers wanted to perform dances relating to various states in Mexico to pay tribute to 10-year-old Jasmen. She said Jasmen joined the dance group about two years ago and really enjoyed performing the dance “Tilingo Lingo” from Veracruz, Mexico.
When the group would practice, Smith said she recalls Jasmen talking a lot during instructions.
“She was a very silly little girl. She was one you could never be mad at,” she said, adding that Jasmen had a smile that would make you forget any frustration.
She said Jasmen touched a lot of people in the community and in her classrooms.
“Her classmates miss her so much. They comment on how they miss her smile,” Smith said.
For the first hour of the dinner, people kept lining up in the hallway outside the cafeteria to go through the food line. The meal was free, but donations to the family were encouraged.
PTA President Starr Cox said about 350 people were eating in the cafeteria at one point. “I was praying for this many people,” she said. “She (Jasmen) was amazing.”
Authorities said Jasmen, of Oklahoma City, was taken from an apartment in Carrollton, Texas, after 11:15 p.m. Oct. 29.
Her body was found face down the next day in the 1100 block of Clint Street, less than a mile away from the apartment she was staying at while visiting relatives near Dallas.
Carrollton police have arrested family friend Jose Conception Sifuentes, 23, in connection with her death. Sifuentes, who had been in custody on an immigration hold, is a cousin of the family by marriage, police said.
The Gonzalez family still is accepting donations and has set up a Jasmen Gonzalez memorial donation fund at Chase Bank.