'We’re going to bring him home,' supporters pledge at vigil for missing Iowa boy Xavior Harrelson
We’re going to bring him home.
Those words were repeated throughout the Sunday afternoon vigil held for Xavior Harrelson, the boy who went missing from Montezuma, Iowa, nearly two months ago.
Organized by Xavior’s aunt Michelle Harrelson and Diane Hoffman, a volunteer who is involved in the missing person advocacy group Mollie’s Movement, the vigil took place at the Montezuma High School football field.
Orange, Xavior’s favorite color, was ubiquitously sported on shirts, headbands, and ribbons by almost all attendees.
“It’s kind of bittersweet," Michelle, Xavior’s aunt on his father’s side, said, "because it’s amazing to find out how many people you don’t even know can care about a kid they’ve never met before. But I honestly wish I had met a lot of these people under different circumstances.
“Nobody ever thinks it will happen to their family until it does.”
Xavior’s mother declined to comment at the vigil.
Xavior was 10 years old when he went missing on May 27, three days before his birthday. He was last seen near a trailer park with his mother, wearing a red T-shirt, blue pajama pants and black high-top shoes.
“He’s an amazing kid,” Michelle said. “He goes out of his way to make your day better. If he sees you’re in a funk or something like that he will sit there and be his crazy little stuff just to get you to smile. We all miss him.”
The event — which featured a scripture reading, music and 11 minutes of silence, one for each year of Xavior’s life — concluded with a live butterfly release.
“Butterflies represent hope,” Hoffman said.
Michelle added, “We’ve been seeing a bunch of them since Xavior went missing. People say that if you pursue a butterfly it gives a message to whoever needs it. When we were doing the search in the lake, one was following Travis (Xavior’s father) for five minutes.”
The vigil is the second public event held to spread awareness about Xavior and offer hope to the Harrelson family. A benefit concert was held at the end of June to help raise money for a reward fund set up by the Montezuma State Bank. The fund has amassed over $34,000 so far.
Des Moines resident Tammy Flowers traveled to volunteer her time. “I have a heart for kids,” she said. “I don’t know what bed he’s sleeping in or how he is being treated. He needs to come home to his loving family.”
Flowers and other volunteers plan to hand out flyers at the National Balloon Classic festival in Indianola.
Hoffman, who is a certified paralegal, is working with the Harrelson family to introduce a bill to change the Amber Alert criterion — the alert was not issued when Xavior went missing because his disappearance did not meet certain requirements. They are currently campaigning to get supporters to sign a petition which has almost 2500 signatures.
“The Amber Alert could have made a huge difference,” said Michelle. “We had to band together as a community. But it could've been so much bigger, it could've been nationwide in a matter of minutes.”
Hoffman wishes to have a million signatures by January.
“We need you to ask everyone you know to sign that petition,” said Hoffman to all the attendees. “We’re going to bring [Xavior] home but we’re going to make sure this never happens to another child ever again.”
She repeated, "We’re going to bring him home. We’re not going to stop.”
How you can help
Xavior is 4 feet, 8 inches tall, weighs 100 pounds and has brown hair and blue eyes. He was 10 years old when he went missing, but turned 11 several days after he went missing.
Those with information regarding his disappearance and whereabouts are asked to call the Poweshiek County Sheriff's Office tip line at 641-623-2107. Crime Stoppers of Central Iowa can be contacted at 800-452-1111.
Additionally, the FBI and DCI have set up a digital media tip line to help find Xavior. Anyone with digital information regarding Xavior’s disappearance can submit tips, such as videos or pictures, at tips.fbi.gov/digitalmedia/28bdfcecfdcdd39.