(KMOV) -- The tiny town of Watson, Illinois turned out in big numbers Wednesday night to remember 7-year-old Willow long.
Effingham County State’s attorney Brian Kibler called Willow Long’s disappearance and tragic death probably the most heartbreaking event in the county’s history.
Hundreds of residents in Watson gathered Wednesday night to suffer that heartbreak together and start the process of healing.
About 400 to 500 gathered at the Watson Civic Center to remember Long. Friends, relatives and residents who did not even know the girl showed up wearing purple to pay their respects. Friends talked about how nice she was and her father addressed the crowd.
"I just want you all to know that I love every last one of you, you all mean the world to me and I know Willow is looking down on us so proud right now, she is so happy that we have all done this for her," said Tommy Long at the memorial service for his daughter, Willow.
Memorial funds have been set up to help pay travel expenses for relatives of Willow who are coming from out of town to attend her funeral. Also the funds will help to buy books for her school.
A willow tree has been purchased and will be planted in the middle of town so that the town of Watson will never forget Long.