If Shanda R. Sharer’s mother could say one thing to her daughter today, it would be, “I miss you.”

Shanda was killed in 1992 at age 12 when four teenage girls, then ages 15 to 17, abducted, beat and raped her before burning her to death.

Pyke-Calloway Mullineaux Chapel, of New Albany, hosted a ceremony in Shanda’s honor on Sunday.

The memorial became a worldwide event — candles and a moment of silence took place at 3 p.m. — Australia, Canada, England, Germany, Mexico and other parts of the United States participated. The idea started after 7,000 signatures were added to a petition on the Web site Justice For Shanda, owned by Sue Nyberg.

Nyberg and others hope to help pass laws, stopping the pre-release of convicted juvenile offenders who committed adult crimes such as murder. Two of Shanda’s assailants have been released from prison — one female convicted of pouring gas on Shanda now works at a factory, and another female obtained a bachelor’s degree.

Many things have changed since Shanda’s death, however her memory remains constant. When Shanda was alive, the Internet was just becoming popular and big hair was in style. Many questions remain about Shanda and her death - Would she have married? What career would she have chosen? Could school resource officers or bullying programs have helped prevent her death? “Kids are so different now than when we were 12,” Brandi Dalton Milan, Shanda’s childhood friend said. “I have a teenager now.”

“She does know all of it,” Jacque Vaught said during an interview with The Evening News and The Tribune when asked what she thought Shanda might think about Sunday’s service and The Shanda Sharer Scholarship.

“She is always with us,” Vaught said.

Two scholarship awards will split $3,000 between two Prosser School of Technology students.

“We’re very pleased to be able to give in Shanda’s name,” said Community Foundation of Southern Indiana CEO Mike Waiz.

“We want this memorial to be about Shanda and not about those who killed her,” Vaught said.

She spoke of Shanda as “quiet,” as the “little girl who came home from school each day and cuddled on your lap.” Shanda “had a big heart, loved people and was a wonderful child” whom everyone was “so thankful” for.

At age 12, Shanda was still coloring with crayons. “I still have a picture that she colored the day before she was killed,” Jacque said.

Photos displayed during the memorial service showed a happy and smiling Shanda — in one picture, she appears dressed as a pumpkin for Halloween, she is pictured trying on big hats, having big 80s-style hair, visiting the beach, enjoying swimming and gymnastics. After everyone had a turn viewing Shanda’s memories, the candle lighting took place — starting with Mary Sears and Jacque.

“OK everybody — lift up your candles,” Mary announced from the podium. After a brief gasp of amazement, Mary said, “It looks beautiful from up here!”

Shanda is buried in Kentucky next to her father who died from cancer in 2005. “He is here with us [too],” Jacque said to the crowd of about 60 people. “This town has wrapped their arms around me since the day it happened,” she said. “I’m grateful for all of the support.”

“We are here to remember the preteen who curled her hair, laughed and brought a smile to everyone,” Sue Nyberg said. “Her story made such an impression on us that we have an obligation to take care of and be responsible for our children. This memorial is not just for Shanda.”

Donations to the Shanda Sharer Scholarship Fund can be made online at cfsouthernindiana.com or via mail to The Community Foundation of Southern Indiana; For the benefit of the Shanda Sharer Scholarship Fund, 4104 Charlestown Roa, New Albany, IN 47150.

— Trisha Dunn is a freelance journalist living in Southern Indiana.

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