There were no words Pastor Wayne Tunnell could use to heal the pain felt by his congregation at Bullard First Assembly on Sunday morning.
So Tunnell pointed them to John 11:35 - “Jesus wept," he told his flock, as the parishioners cried openly, attempting to understand the reality that 10-year-old Kayla Gomez-Orozco was gone.
Kayla is said to have been last seen at the church on U.S. Highway 69, during its sister congregation’s Tuesday night Spanish language prayer meeting. Family said she vanished there, where she was last seen playing in the church lobby.
The search for Kayla ended Saturday evening, after law enforcement descended on a house off of Old Jacksonville Highway and soon after announced remains had been found.
“We’re trying to put on a strong front, but the truth is we’re not handling it,” Tunnell said before the service. “We’re heartbroken.”
Teddy bears and prayer candles were piled in the foyer, next to a sign that read, “Praying for Kayla,” left by the Bullard Intermediate School Bible Club.
Tunnell did not have answers for the small assembly in attendance.
Their grief was palpable. Along with the sadness came confusion and anger.
"How could someone take a little girl from a church?" they asked. "What kind of person would hurt a child?"
Many had spent hours Saturday morning combing the area as part of a community volunteer search party. Just 24 hours earlier, they still held hope of finding Kayla and bringing her safely home.
The church goers exchanged information they had heard about who might be responsible and struggled for answers. Law enforcement had not yet revealed the identity of a suspect or any details regarding how she disappeared.
All the congregation could do Sunday morning was pray for their sister church and the family who worships within the church's same walls and now is suffering so deeply.
Two prayer vigils were held Sunday evening - one at Jack Elementary School, where Kayla was in fourth grade, and the other at Brook Hill School in Bullard, near where Kayla went missing.