Missing Franklin County girl remembered with monument - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Missing Franklin County girl remembered with monument

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By Josh Ault  bio|e-mail

RUSSELLVILLE, AL (WAFF)  It has been 16 years since Andrea Gonzalez, 11, turned up missing in Franklin County.  The search for her was the largest investigation in that county's history.

On Thursday a special memorial was erected in honor of Gonzalez. The memorial was built 16 years ago, but the problem was not having a place to put it. 

A truck from Leoma Monument Works out of Leoma, TN, pulled up to the new Franklin County Jail around noon.  The crew had finally found a place to put a special memorial that had been with them for years.

"The actual monument was made in 1993," said Rex Huntley, an employee with Leoma Monument Works. "We brought it to Russellville as a memorial.  (Because of) some legal purposes the monument couldn't be erected."

After its first trip to Russellville, the monument was put in the basement at Akins Funeral Home.  After a year there, it was returned to Tennessee.

"It's been on the display yard at Leoma Monument for 12 to 14 years," Huntley said.

The granite memorial has the photo of Andrea Gonzalez etched onto it and the words "She touched the hearts of many."

"For those of us who have children, especially," said Cheryl Bradford, a Russellville resident. "You want to see a child get a fair chance at life, and she was so young."

Gonzalez's body has never been found.  Her parents, Kim and Paul Gonzalez, admitted she died after being scalded. 

Kim Gonzalez was convicted of child abuse in the case, but has now since been released. No one has ever been charged for murder in the case.

Those who helped get the memorial to the jail hope people will not forget Andrea Gonzalez.

"I think it's a great idea," said Bradford, "Especially for the people who worked on that case for years and years."

The scripture Mark 9:42 is on the memorial.  It reads: "And whosoever shall defend one of these little ones, that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck and he were cast into the sea."

A special dedication ceremony will be planned. The memorial was donated by the former owner of Leoma Monument Works.

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