Vigil honors South Jordan boys' memory
South Jordan • Taylor Wheeler was the light of his mother's life.
But his life, and the life of his friend, Dayton Gessell, ended Friday afternoon. Taylor, 12, and Dayton, 15, were found in the basement of a home in the Daybreak development shortly after gunshots were heard. Police are still investigating, and few details have been made public, other than police found three handguns at the scene.
Sunday evening, mourners filled the park outside the Daybreak home for a candlelight vigil to remember the boys.
"We're lighting candles for lights extinguished too soon," said Taylor's mother, CharlÃ© Meier. "They were just boys."
Leslie Zimmerman, Taylor's aunt, expected 20 to 30 people to show up only to see more than 100 friends, family, classmates and acquaintances turn out, embracing each other and hearing each other's tearful memories of Taylor and Dayton. Zimmerman thanked everyone who came to support both families.
"We need to hold each other up," Meier said. "These kids need to be together. It's terrible."
"We don't know what happened in there," said Shawn Graham, Dayton's uncle. Graham described his nephew as an incredible young man who loved baseball and wanted to be an engineer. Someone could put a math problem in front of him and he could solve it, Graham said.
Meier, standing on a picnic table to get above the crowd, passed out notepads for people to write down messages to the boys. "Nobody got to say goodbye," she said.
Copper Mountain Middle School eighth-grader Drew Francom was looking for change to make a dollar recently. He asked Taylor, but at the moment the boy did not have money to give him. Then later at lunch, Taylor found Drew again and gave him the dollar he needed.
"I never got to pay him back," Francom said. "So I brought him a dollar."
By all accounts of his friends and family, Taylor was a fun-loving kid who made people laugh and cheered them up. "He was a lovable kid," said ninth-grader Austin Tanner, his friend.
Tanner and fellow ninth-grader Kaleb Carn remembered their friend as a boy with lots of hugs to give, friends to make and a "happy dance" that could make people smile.
If he met someone who did not like him, Taylor would ask why, and by the end of the conversation, he would have made a new best friend, Carn said.
"This feels like a bad dream," Tanner said.
Carn agreed. "It doesn't feel real yet," he said, noting that he saw Taylor on Friday and his friend told him he'd see him again soon.