Red ribbons of rage replaced yellow ribbons of hope Monday as Anthony Martinez’s hometown turned its attention to finding the person who killed the 10-year-old and dumped his nude body in a canyon.
“I’m sensing that people want to find him before the police do - it’s an eye-for-an-eye type of thing,” said volunteer John Lonkin.
Lonkin, along with hundreds of others in this town 80 miles southeast of Los Angeles, prayed for 16 days that the boy with the broad smile would be found alive.
But then a badly decomposed body found in a rocky ravine was identified Sunday as Anthony’s. Nude, bound with duct tape and covered with rocks, the body was in a remote desert area, about 90 miles east of Anthony’s home.
He was kidnapped April 4 at knife point while playing with his stepbrother and friends behind his apartment in this town of 11,000.
“People are just wanting vengeance with this, including myself,” Lonkin said. “I never used to feel that way in my life, until now.”
But the boy’s mother, Diane Medina, said she doesn’t want the memory of her son clouded by rage and anger.
“We don’t want anybody wearing the red ribbons because we’re not angry,” Medina said. “We want to remember Anthony with love and compassion.”
“It’s over for Anthony,” she said. “He’s home now. He loved Jesus very much … he’s home where there is no harm, where this man can never reach him again.”
Beaumont police said they were organizing a joint task force with the FBI and officials from surrounding areas to hunt down the killer.
“This individual is a threat,” Beaumont Lt. John Acosta said.
Officials withheld the cause of Anthony’s death and many details about his slaying, but said they believe the killer was familiar with the area and had stalked other children in the week before Anthony’s abduction.
Investigators have received about 4,000 tips and were investigating several possible suspects, Acosta said.
Throughout Southern California, thousands of new fliers with a sketch of the suspect were being distributed Monday. Volunteers across the country posted more than a million of the fliers during the two weeks Anthony was missing.