POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Balloons rose into the heavens with dozens of mourners watching, to remember 20-year-old Sierra Hernandez.
Better times were remembered with dozens of pictures strung under this canopy in Bartow’s Mary Holland park–which we’re told was one of Hernandez’s favorite places.
Her father was touched by the turnout that included not only friends and family but strangers all here to remember the joys of her life instead of the tragedy of her death.
“She was a very loving caring person. She would do anything for anybody. that she trusted and loved. She’d light up the room,” Sierra’s dad Shawn Hernandez said. “Very happy person.”
On Jan. 14, Hernandez was reported missing and was believed to have been killed days before her disappearance, according to deputies.
While she was missing, Hernandez’s father, along with four of her family members, who went searching for her were arrested for searching a property where they believed she could have been. While behind bars, her family learned of her death.
All charges against her family members have since been dropped.
“It hurts. It’s devastating to know what they did,” Hernandez said. “They took a life with no remorse here we are as a family and community having to live the consequences of this.”
On Jan. 22, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office named Enrique Martinez, 26, as their “prime suspect” in her disappearance. Martinez is already facing numerous charges including first-degree murder for the death of Edil Rodriguez in November.
He remains in jail and is being held on no bond.
On Jan. 31, a judge ordered 44-year-old Daphne Fernandez, Martiniez’s girlfriend, to remain in jail until trial for her involvement in Hernandez’s murder. She is facing several charges including abuse of a dead body, as human remains were founding a burn pile in her backyard.
Polk detectives believe Fernandez and Martinez took the victim’s car to a casino and used her bank card information to pay the bill. Fernandez faces kidnapping and accessory charges in Hernandez’s death.
Her family said they will never forget Sierra and say they will never get over how her life ended. But her parents say they feel the love and support from their community.
“A lot people we talked to and a lot of people who are hear now,” Hernandez said. “We don’t even know. Never met. It just shows us that the community is behind us.”