KEANSBURG, NJ: On Saturday, September 14th, at Friendship Park, 17 Frances Place in Keansburg, NJ, a dedication ceremony was held at 11am, to honor Abbiegail Kaylea Smith, "Princess Abbie". Abbie's precious life was tragically taken from her in July of 2017. Carol Bennett, known in the community as a very protective mother, reported her 11 year-old daughter as missing to local police. It was discovered the following day that an upstairs neighbor in the Keansburg apartment building her family lived in had savagely murdered her. He is now behind bars for life. The family expressed gratitude to the Monmouth County Prosecuter's Office for that.
Jeffrey Wilbert, Captain of Detectives for the Monmouth County Prosecuter's Office commented to TAPinto, "On the morning after Abbiegail went missing, I met her mother Carol Bennett. My introduction was 'I've never met your daughter Abbiegail, but she's also my daughter now and she's the daughter of our investigative team'. That's just the mindset that we have with this case, with all of our investigative cases...it's not just the investigative aspect we all become family..." Wilbert attended the ceremony Saturday to support the family and honor Abbie.
This article however is not about the way Abbie's earthly life ended, or about her barbaric killer. His name will not be in this article.
This article is about Abbie's love and kindness transcending the grief and heartache of the unimaginable theft of a child's life taken. It's about her loved ones, family and friends breaking through their constant pain to share memories about someone they wake up and immediately miss every day, every moment. The article is about Abbie's amazing mom Carol's messages about her daughter as seen and heard in the videos.
The crowd gathered; family members, friends, classmates, neighbors, government officials...strangers who came to show their respect for the family of the sweet young girl. Over and over again comments were made about Abbie being remembered for bringing joy and kindness to everyone. In a park where Abbie should have been meeting friends and playing, instead on Saturday, had a new tree planted in her memory and a plaque wrapped in her favorite color of purple, later to be unveiled at the dedication. There was a small tent decorated with balloons, mainly in shades of purple, Abbie's favorite color. There was a table with a purple tablecloth, where later a dedication ceremony cake was shared in honor of Abbie. There were picture collages with photos of her from her baby years through the time she passed. Abbie should be in 8th grade now.
The ceremony began with opening remarks from Abbie's aunt, her mother's sister; Cecille Bennett who thanked everyone for coming. "While I am honored to welcome you here today to this ceremony in honor of my niece Abbiegail Smith... I wish we were here for a happy occassion celebrating something that Abbie has achieved...Abbie was taken from us way too soon. We are still reeling from the horror and shocked that someone who brought so much joy to us is not here, yet we are humbled by the love and support by so many here today." Cecille's welcome was followed with prayer by Jasmine Thomas on behalf of the Hope Worship Center in Hazlet.
The most poignant and powerful words were spoken from the heart of a bereaved mom. Carol Bennett commented, "Losing Abbie has turned by life upside down...there will be no 8th grade prom for her, no sweet 16, no graduation...Abby represented all that is good about humankind...I miss my daughter with every fiber of my being..."
VIDEO: Listen to Carol Bennett speak about her precious Abbie:
Abbie's brother Chad commented to TAPinto, "My sister Abbie was so different, very special in a very good way. We miss her so much, this doesn't seem real. There was no one like her. She visits me in my dreams and I see signs from her a lot. It doesn't make the sadness go away but it reminds me that she is with me. She was so kind all the time. Why can't we live in peace and just love one another?"
Mayor Jimmy Cocuzza, Sr. expressed his sympathy as did George Hoff who was the Mayor of Keansburg when the tragedy occurred. Cocuzza commented that Hoff often mentioned how Abbie's smile lit up the hallways at the Bolger Middle School. The Principal Joseph LaRocca spoke, "One thing that comes to mind when we think about Abbie is her smile. It always brightens up the hallways and we miss her. Abbie would be an 8th grader this year at Bolger..." He presented the family with a rendering for a plaque that will be displayed at the school in the near future, in memory of Abbie.
Friends Eileen Lynch and Kelly Bellotti both gave beautiful and emotional tributes to the family in honor of Abbie. Friends of Abbie's were gathered on the lawn, two of which had prepared poems to read. Bridget Lynch and Hope. There were many tears and hugs as Abbie's friends and family comforted one another. The lawyer who represented Abbie's family has now become a close friend. Attorney David Foley spoke at the gathering. See his speech in the video below:
VIDEO: Abbie Smith's family's attorney David Foley speaks:
Throughout the ceremony thoughtful music selections were played through a sound system and live entertainment was also provided by Terrence Haupt and Erianna Haupt of 3 in 1 Entertainment. Listen to the short clip in the video below of 3in1 singing Amazing Grace:
"I have lost so much during the last two years that sometimes I want to give up..." Abbiegail Smith's mother Carol Bennett commented during her closing remarks, also expressing gratitude to the Monmouth County Prosectuer's office, the Keansburg Borough and Community, her lawyer, family and friends... Watch video clip and hear from Abbie's mom Carol:
The event culminated with a balloon release in honor of the sweet little girl who played in this town and as one of her friend's commented in their poem about Abbie, "You were kind when no one else cared." We can do something extraordinarily kind today in Abbie's memory.