BERNE, N.Y. — The death of 5-year-old Kenneth White continues to hit home for many in the Capital Region.
The community gathered Monday evening at Berne-Knox-Westerlo Elementary School for a candle light vigil, honoring the life taken too soon.
Kenneth’s cousin, 19-year-old Tiffany VanAlstyne is accused of strangling and beating the 5-year-old to death, and as Albany County’s Sheriff Apple describes it, throwing his body away like a piece of trash.
VanAlstyne pleaded not guilty to the charge of second-degree murder in the case, admitting to the judge that she is bipolar. On Friday, VanAlstyne was remanded without bail to the Albany County Jail.
The flags at his school will continue to fly at half-staff Monday to honor the life of one of their own.
“The loss of Kenneth is something that we will feel for a long time,” said the school’s principal, Audrey Roettgers.
She says she will never forget the bubbly five-year-old kindergartener she walked from the bus to class on one of his first days of school.
“He chattered to me the whole time down the hallway about Spider-Man, about things that were going on, about his teacher, about his friends,” she remembered.
She says the school has been in shock ever since news spread of his murder. In addition to counseling for students, the school decided a candlelight vigil was necessary, not only show support, but to come together in grief.
With more than 700 candles donated to the school’s PTA for the vigil, she says it is clear Kenneth’s memory has sparked something not just to those at his school or in his district, but across the country.
“I think the most important thing that were getting out of this is how much we need to value our children and cherish each minute that we have with them. They are such a precious gift,” she said.
And the community continues to offer support with a previously planned holiday event and toy drive was dedicated to Kenneth’s siblings, who remain in foster care as law enforcement investigates the home Kenneth lived in with his aunt, cousin and siblings.
The vigil was set up by the Berne-Knox-Westerlo School’s PTA.
Services will be held for Kenny this Saturday, December 27 at Riley Mortuary.