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Question of faith: ‘Can good come from acts of evil?’

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for Abigail

Wake: 2-8 p.m. Sunday, Daleiden Funeral Home, 220 N. Lake St., Aurora

Funeral mass: 10 a.m. Monday, St. Therese Church, 271 N. Farnsworth Ave., Aurora

How to help

Donations can be made for the funeral at all Chase Banks locations. The account is in Ricardo Villalpando’s name with the last four digits 7717.

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Updated: March 11, 2013 6:11AM

The scene Thursday was like something from a horror movie: Mourners quietly gathering on a dismal, foggy night, a blanket of wet snow falling softly on their shoulders as they huddled around a white cross bearing a beautiful young girl’s name.

In the background was a dark barren field, where the killer had dumped 18-year-old Abigail Villalpando’s body after beating the West High student with a hammer and setting the remains on fire.

What made the vigil even more surreal was the sense of despair that permeated the atmosphere. Abi was so sweet, so beloved — and her murder so evil that the many who adored her seemed in an almost state of suspended animation.

And when you are feeling such numbness, it is hard to find reason to hope.

There were words from her brother Ricardo — angry words that speculated on his sister’s last moments of life, and how the monsters responsible for her death would burn in hell. There were also words from friends, still grappling with how someone so sweet could meet such a violent end, especially at the hands of those who were supposed to be her friends.

Melba Ortega, who worked with Abigail at Denny’s Restaurant, challenged the crowd to end the apathy toward violence. “A car was engulfed in flames,” she said of the teen’s Nissan Altima that was found under Aurora’s High Street bridge, near a busy restaurant and a couple hundred feet from many homes. “Yet no one said anything.”

Certainly there were words at the vigil that offered some comfort, such as those of friend Joey Rios. “Maybe we will never know why (she was killed),” he told the crowd of a 100 who braved the weather that evening. “It is irrelevant. She is gone now. We may not be able to see or hear her, but somewhere deep in our hearts, she will live.”

A few lighter stories were also shared that demonstrated the victim’s sense of humor and love for children. But it wasn’t until a stranger with a guitar stepped forward that faith became the focus of this candlelight vigil.

Bradley Kevin Green, a 39-year-old Aurora musician, had never met Abi; yet news of her death touched him so deeply that he immediately sat down and composed a song in her memory.

A self-described musician/handyman, Green has received well-deserved press — and most recently, the Aurora Historical Society’s first ever “Heart for Aurora” award — for the album of songs he wrote for the city’s 175th birthday last year. Chatting with him for even a short time, it’s obvious this is a man devoted to God, to family and to community.

It is God that was most needed Thursday night.

With hands and vocal chords slightly impaired by the cold, he strummed his guitar and performed “Song for Abi.”

“Beautiful angel ... beautiful one. You’re home in heaven with Father and Son.

Although we’re still healing, your healing is done. Beautiful angel ... beautiful one.”

Green told me he composed — and later recorded — the song after realizing Abi was “as beautiful on the inside as she was on the outside.” She also reminded him of his own daughter, a few years younger, but dark-haired and petite, like the smiling girl in the photos taped to the white cross.

“If a father could write a song about his daughter, this would be it,” he said, adding that he too felt the despair in the night, but hoped “this gift to Abi” would help others clinging to grief.

As loved ones gather for her wake and funeral over the next couple of days, I hope they find solace. They continue to raise money for Abigail’s burial expenses (see the information box for more details); and Green has already made a CD of “Song for Abi” that can be purchased with all proceeds going into the fund.

“Can good come from acts of evil?” he asked. “If you have hope, yes. It can bring complete strangers together. It can let people of little faith know that, even though those boys took Abi’s life and destroyed her body, they could not touch her soul.”

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