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WEST JORDAN — Six-year-old Sierra Newbold was remembered Saturday by friends and family as a sweet and spunky little girl who loved to draw with pink crayons and flash her big brown eyes at the people she loved.
Funeral services for Newbold were held at an LDS Church in West Jordan near the canal where her body was found Tuesday. Police said she was sexually assaulted and murdered but there was no new information on the case or potential suspects released Saturday.
Sierra's parents were among the hundreds of mourners gathered, all seemingly holding onto their own young children a little tighter as stories were told about what Sierra brought to the lives of those around her.
Sierra's uncle, Michael Mahoney, said she was "outgoing and made friends everywhere she went. She was eager to grow up and drive and get her very own cell phone." He said Sierra had an "amazing ability to make everybody happy with her big brown eyes" and smile.
We were never in a hurry for her to leave. We knew she loved us, but we loved her more.
–- Colette Farr, Sunday school teacher
Her best friend, Mahoney said, was her younger sister, Taylor. Her older siblings recalled how she loved to play games including hide-and-seek, although she had to learn to not instantly call out where she was hiding when they started searching.
A sister said Sierra loved makeovers and had recently taken off her shoes for show-and-tell in her kindergarten class to proudly display a new pedicure. Sierra had also donated some of her blond hair more than a year ago to be used for wigs for cancer patients.
Her brother Troy said Sierra loved watching cartoons on TV but was careful to avoid certain animated programs aimed at adults. "She was such a good listener," he said "She knew what was right. She knew what she was supposed to do."
Two of her LDS Church primary teachers sobbed while detailing some of their memories.
"She would say, 'Brother Love, it's going to be OK,' " Kevin Love said of her reaction when he became emotional during church services. "Even though I was the teacher, she taught me."
Colette Farr said Sierra "was such a bright light in my class and teaching her was always a joy." Farr said Sierra was always the first to scoot her chair closer during a lesson. "Her little nose would wrinkle," Farr said, because she was smiling so broadly.
Sierra told her primary class that she was an artist, Farr said, and took her drawing seriously, pulling up a piano bench to use as a table. With a selection of crayons that always included pink she would work slowly and carefully.
Farr said Sierra was encouraged to take as much time as she needed to finish her projects. "We were never in a hurry for her to leave," she said. "We knew she loved us, but we loved her more."
LDS Bishop Vaughn Shosted of the West Jordan 27th Ward acknowledged the community's loss and urged those attending to have faith.
"Last Tuesday was a very dark day here for the friends and family of little Sierra," Shosted said. "We still miss her. We all have a deep hole gouged out of our hearts. The hard part is we don't know why."
LDS Stake President Jeffrey Edwards spoke of the prayers and other manifestations of love for Sierra that have surfaced, including the pink and purple ribbons tied throughout the neighborhood, including on railings and trees at the ward house.
Tom and Natalie Hughes and their 2-year-old daughter, Jayce, were among the mourners.
"It just really hit home what happened, with my little girl and another little girl on the way," said Natalie Hughes, who is due to become a mother again in just over two weeks.
Tom Hughes worked until a few months ago with Sierra's father, Brad Newbold, at an electrician company. He said Sierra's father is "very broken" over losing his daughter.
Since learning of Sierra's death, Tom Hughes said he's been on edge about the safety of his own little girl.
"I want my kid to be safe," he said. "I can't let her leave my sight."