Vigil shines light on family of toddler who died

Family members of Taylor Leah Hartung-Mann held a candlelight vigil Saturday night, and about 40 people attended.
Posted on Feb. 17, 2013 at 12:00 a.m. | Updated on Feb. 17, 2013 at 12:11 p.m.

ELKHART — Kris Jiskra didn’t know much about putting together a candlelight vigil, but she got a little help from somebody who’s been down that road before.

More than 40 people — mostly family and friends plus a few strangers — showed up shortly after 7 p.m. Saturday for the vigil at Willowdale Park on the north side of Elkhart to remember Taylor Leah Hartung-Mann, a 15-month-old girl whose death more than a year ago remains unsolved.

They gathered around a park bench where the family positioned a poster-sized photo of the young girl with chubby cheeks.

Jiskra, the maternal grandmother, talked about Taylor briefly, but was unsure what to do next when Joanne Glick began to speak.

Glick is the grandmother of TaraNova Glick, a 3-year-old who died in a local high-profile abuse case in 2004 at the hands of the mother’s boyfriend.

“Our family went through a child dying from abuse. Luckily, we had answers. We knew who did it. They’re in prison now,” Glick said. “I just can’t imagine not knowing all the answers and not knowing what happened.”

Glick, who helped end the vigil by leading the group in prayer, and other family members decided to attend the vigil after reading about it.

That little connection with the Glick family opened up floodgates of emotion for Jiskra and tears began rolling down her face as she thanked the Glicks and others for attending.

Taylor died Dec. 31, 2011 after her mother, Brandi Lord, had gone to work and left the child with her then-boyfriend and a roommate who were soon joined by three other people to celebrate New Year’s Eve.

Hours later, Lord received a text message saying that something was wrong with Taylor.

Police investigated the death, but prosecutors turned the case back to Elkhart Police Department last month, saying they didn’t have enough evidence to file charges.

Family members believe the case has been stymied by a lack of cooperation from some of the people who were in the home that night.

“This is our chance to be Taylor’s voice,” Jiskra said.

“It’s been a tough year,” she said. “We want answers.”

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