Heartbreak filled Calvary Church this past Saturday as the community came together for a Candlelight Vigil for Alyahna Bliss, a toddler whose death has been reported as suspicious for now.
The Ely Times sat down with the child’s father, Matt Bliss, to recall Alyahna’s life and some of her favorite things. Bliss described the three and a half year old Alyahna as radiant, beautiful and held a loving personality with everyone.
“She was really outgoing, she loved everybody,” Bliss said.
Alyahna’s favorite toy was anything paw patrol, stuffed animals, she loved any movie that had to do with animals, and she loved dogs.
Bliss explained how he had bought his daughters a puppy two years ago at Christmas time, and he spoke of Alyahna’s love for her dog. She loved music as well.
Bliss and his girlfriend, Brandlynn Stotler, reminisced on how one of Alyahna’s favorite songs was “Meant to Be,” by Bebe Rexha and Florida Georgia Line. “She sang it in the car, in the kitchen, everywhere,” Stotler said.
One of Alyahna’s favorite stuffed animals, a purple owl, was placed on a chair at the front of the church. A pair of pink angel wings, made by a local woman rested below the chair.
The chair draped with a purple cloth, one of Alyahna’s favorite colors.
One of the pastors for Calvary, Ian Bullis, introduced himself and began singing several hymns as the crowd joined in.
The family was seated at the front, and there was standing room only. A look around the room showed people singing along, helping each other light one another’s candles as tears fell.
Crying could be heard over the singing, many holding onto one another as the crowd sang “I can only Imagine.” One of Alyahana’s teachers brought a stuffed dog toy that was placed next to the owl.
Another pastor with Calvary, Matt Bauman, spoke before the crowd, thanking everyone for coming out.
“You can say what you want to say about Ely, but it’s pretty amazing to see this turnout,” he said.
Bauman went on to talk about the child’s death. “What a terrible tragedy that’s happened in our community. A little girl 3 1/2 years old was taken from us, taken too soon, needlessly.”
Bauman went on and mentioned the different posts on social media that had been circulating, some being helpful and some seeking justice. “The family is a little overwhelmed and every time they go to the grocery store or step outside their house it’s like their having to retell this story over and over again.
“I also saw another group rise up, these are the people seeking justice, rightfully so, some of these people started to question law enforcement, question what is going on, how come they’re doing certain things and maybe not other things? This group is concerned justice will not be served. One post I saw was even calling for the lynch mob mentality,” Bauman said.
Bauman read several bible verses and expressed to the crowd to trust in god and lean on his understanding.
“I wanted to offer some solace,” he said. “We don’t have to seek revenge, god has put all people into authority and justice will be delivered, on this earth or after, you can be assured of that. What this community needs now is love, and to lift up this family that is sitting in front of you and provide for them in this time of need.”
A closing prayer was given and several people stood in line to give the family members a hug.
Bliss said, “She was daddy’s little girl, she loved life.”
This case is being investigated by the FBI, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Tribal Police and the White Pine County Sheriff’s Office.
No arrests have been made.