It was an emotional remembrance Saturday in Hayward for 8-year-old Sophia Mason, the missing girl found dead last week in Merced.
The focus was not just on remembering Sophia Mason for organizers it was also on making changes moving forward to better protect children.
Sophia Mason's family said she was a bright, vibrant 8-year-old who loved squish mallow pillows and dancing. They called her “So-So.”
“A sweet, wonderful girl all always happy full of joy and promise,” Melanie Verlatti, Sophia’s cousin.
There were heavy hearts as people gathered to remember Sophia Mason. She had been Sophia’s mother Samantha Johnson is accused of murder and police are still searching for her boyfriend Dhante Jackson.
Sophia’s young classmates struggling to understand why they can’t play with their friend anymore.
“She always had joy she was smiling she was happy I wish I could see her again,” said Amelia, the victim’s friend.
Sophia’s family said they reported warning signs of abuse to police and child protective services. Police confirmed they received reports of possible abuse. But state agents decided to leave Sophia Mason with her mother.
Now, Sophia's family is joining forces with the community to make sure other children will be better protected.
“We are also here to elevate what happened to her case to make sure that adult and the system to more to help kids who cry for help,” said Mark Salinas of Hayward City Council.
A family that is still shedding tears for their loss and vowing that Sophia’s short life will be a catalyst for change.