WOODLAND PARK, Colo. — Friday marked the day when Kelsey Berreth disappeared a year ago. It is also a day many in Woodland Park will never forget.
More than 150 community members gathered to hold a remembrance vigil for Kelsey at Memorial Park. It was a tearful tribute to Kelsey and the life she lived.
“I felt so much empathy for her family and not having closure,” Woodland Park resident Elizabeth Agan said.
Memorial Park is just two blocks away from where Kelsey lived. Songs, prayers and what people remember most about Kelsey were shared. Kelsey was described as a beloved shining light on this earth.
“As cold as it is I’m surprised there are so many people here,” Woodland Park resident Kim Lewis said.
The people in Woodland Park have learned to lean on one another this past year. Once again, this community gathered at Memorial Park to remember Kelsey Berreth nearly a year after members gathered when she was reported missing.
“Woodland Park doesn’t have a whole lot of crime so something this bad happened it grabbed everyone’s attention,” Woodland Park resident Mark Agan said.
Police Chief Miles DeYoung pointed out the fresh layer of snow covering the ground as a reminder of how pure, beautiful and kind Kelsey was. He wants people to remember the beloved mother, sister, and daughter that she was rather than how she left this world.
“I’ll remember her forever,” Lewis added. “She just seems like someone who would be a light in your life you know, it’s really difficult and I didn’t even know her.”
People spoke about how Kelsey followed her dreams to be a flight instructor helping those in the military. Many also reflecting on the recent conviction of Kelsey’s Fiance.
“The community has been following this case the whole time and they are pretty much feeling like justice was served but it’s leaving you with an empty feeling inside,” Lewis explained.
“I mean yes, he is going to be in prison for the rest of his life, but where is their daughter, that’s the hardest part for me, there is just no closure for them,” Elizabeth Agan added.
Father John Stearns asked everyone to pray for the Berreth family as they gather around the Thanksgiving table next week with one empty chair.
“Hold your loved ones close because tragedy happens every day, it’s a terrible thing,” Elizabeth Agan said.
The Berreth family was not present at the remembrance vigil Friday night.
Since Kelsey’s disappearance on Thanksgiving Day of 2018 and the investigation that ensued, it took a toll on the local police department.
Nina Allmond, 9-1-1 Dispatcher for Woodland Park said she’ll always remember Kelsey and the concern in Kelsey’s mother’s voice when she first called dispatch.
“I’m sorry that this happened, and for their loss,” Allmond said.
The dispatcher added that she wants to better herself and others in the call center because time is of the essence when it comes to a missing person’s case.
“It will definitely be used to try and better myself as a dispatcher and hopefully be used in training to help our dispatchers think outside the box,” Allmond explained.
As a mother, she said it was very concerning but as a professional, she had to not let the caller hear any emotion in her voice. She’s thankful for the quick thinking of Chief DeYoung asking for state and federal help for more resources.
Allmond said she took hundreds of tips about possible whereabouts of Kelsey after she was first reported missing. She said they’ll continue to take tips and they’ll never stop looking for her body.
“Going back and listening to the call for service it was very heartwrenching,” Allmond said.
She described the weeks and months after Dec. 2, when Cheryl Berreth called about Kelsey as not easy. Allmond said it’s bittersweet that their work is finally over.
“It is a sense of relief that we did do enough that we were able to give the community the things that they needed for that,” Allmond added.
Chief DeYoung said his department has lost a third of their officers since Kelsey first disappeared. They have since started to add more officers and dispatchers to their department. DeYoung said it wasn’t all because of the case, but he did explain that the search efforts and the investigation into the brutal murder did do a number on his officers.
There will be a celebration of life for Kelsey tomorrow, Saturday at 2 p.m. at Woodland Park Seventh-Day Adventist Church.