‘We watched him take his first steps.’ Church members speak at vigil of 5-year-old set on fire and killed

Louisiana

ST. MARY PARISH, La. (KLFY) — The loved ones of a five-year-old boy who was set on fire and killed earlier this month in Franklin remembered his short but impactful life Wednesday night by releasing blue balloons, his favorite color, at a vigil.

Law enforcement says the boy’s uncle was the one who took the child’s life.

Authorities say Derwin Hamilton admitted he poured liquid on his girlfriend and the 5-year-old boy then lit them both on fire during an argument with the woman about their relationship ending.

Hamilton is charged with second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder.

At the vigil for five-year-old Joshua Hamilton, Wednesday were dozens of people from Joshua’s church, including his pastors, who say the church was a huge part of his life.

“We have been knowing him since he was born. We watched him grow. We watched him take his first step. We watched him praise the Lord in church. He would do everything he saw the older people do. He would try to preach like me. He would lay hands. He was just my little friend, my little boy,” Morning Glory Ministries Pastor Hendry Johnson said. 

“He laid hands on everybody. He prayed. He would come to the church, addressing me, ‘Hey pastor! Hey pastor!’ So he was always, always ready to do something good and do something funny and do something that is loving,” Pastor Debora Johnson added. 

Officials say Joshua died shortly after his uncle, Derwin Hamilton lit him on fire in their home.

“It’s still unbelievable right now that we will never see that smiling face again. We will never hear that voice again. We will never see him just lift his hands to the lord like he does, but it’s just something that we have to get through. We’re going to miss him. It hurts,” Pastor Debora Johnson told News Ten. 

Joshua’s pastors, who say they were like grandparents to him, say though it hurts, they take comfort in knowing he’s now in Heaven. 

“He’s in a great place. He wouldn’t change where he is right now for anything in the world,” Pastor Hendry said.

“It’s truly a blessing to us that God allowed us to know him in his young life,” Pastor Debora added. 

Friends of Hamilton’s girlfriend, who did make it out of this fire alive, say she’s been in the hospital since this fire happened, getting skin grafts. They say she has third-degree burns on 60% of her body, but it’s looking like she will survive. 

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