The following news release was issued by the event's organizers:
Thomas White, the now-14-year-old child accused of entering Memorial Middle School on October 9, 2006, with a loaded weapon, has been incarcerated for the past nine months and is being tried as an adult. Subsequent to this incident, his father, Gregory White, has also recently been incarcerated for the next 18 months.
This has left the immediate family of Thomas White – including his mother, Norma, and two, younger elementary-aged siblings, alone. Norma, who has never before worked outside of the home, has attained her realtor's license and is now working to continue to financially support the family, enduring alone the endless court-dates in the case against her son, and to emotionally and spiritually support her younger and older children as they all endure the tribulations that accompany this life-altering event in their lives.
A group of Joplin and surrounding area citizens are asking for the help of all compassionate, faith-based individuals and organizations to send up prayers for Thomas White and his family and to attend a non-denominational Candlelight Prayer Vigil — sponsored by Justice For Juveniles.org — at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 18, at Landreth Park in Joplin (pavilion #2).
"I would like to thank all those who have helped to organize this event and especially those who have been and continue to pray for my son and our family," said Norma White, Thomas' mother. "That I am sorry does not begin to express the depth of my grief for the effect this has had on the entire community, and 'Thank you' does not begin to express our full-appreciation for the compassionate, forgiving individuals who have expressed this to me personally. We are eternally grateful for the community's continued support and for all the prayers for our family and our son.”
Information from media reports will be offered on the current status of the state's case against Thomas at the prayer vigil — his adult certification and the defense's request that he be remanded back to the juvenile system for incarceration in a juvenile facility and psychological treatment. The judge overseeing the case is expected to make a pivotal decision in the case in a hearing scheduled for 1:30 p.m. this Friday, July 20.
Norma White and her children will be in attendance to personally hear the prayers and to feel the love and support of their community!