State - Regional

Vigil held for toddler murdered, molested in Upstate SC

LAURENS CO. S.C. (WSPA) - Dozens of community members in Laurens County gathered to pray and remember the life of 2-year-old Brantley Smith. 

Investigators say the child was molested, brutally beaten and murdered. 

Jessica Smith, the 2-year-old's mother, and her boyfriend William Looper are in jail facing charges for the toddler's death. Smith is charged with Homicide by Child Abuse and Looper is charged with Murder. 

On Sunday, people from all walks of like who knew Brantley and others who were moved by his death gathered at the Laurens County Sheriff's Office for a vigil organized by Put Down The Guns Now Young People. 

"Listen it is hard for me to talk about this, because I think about the pain he went through, the suffering and not understanding why he suffered," said Laurens County Sheriff Don Reynolds.

On Saturday, the boy was found unresponsive at a home on Country Lane in Clinton. 

"Lord remembering this young life... God knowing that there was a deal of pain and suffering that he went through," said Associate Pastor of Chestnut Ridge Baptish Chas Hayes. 

Among the crowd was the boy's father, Justin Smith. He tells 7News he saw his son two months ago, not knowing it would be his last time. 

"Have you processed anything that's happened?" Asked 7News Reporter Stefany Bornman. 

"No, not really," Smith said. "I really haven't talked to anyone." 

Smith says the community's support is encouraging, everyone who showed up to pray and light candles for his son. 

Many people even brought toys for Brantley's two older brothers, who have been placed in state custody. 

According to Justin Smith, Jessica Smith had primary custody of their 3 children. He says he's trying to get custody of his 6 and 7 year old, but says it hurts to think he could have done more to protect his son. 

"It would have never happened if they would have been in my care," Smith told 7News. "It would have never happened." 

Bond was denied for both Looper and Smith. 

A judge will decide if the other children will stay with the state or live with a family member. 

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