Local Liberian community holds candlelight service with family of 14-year-old girl
The mother of Daisy "Jupiter" Paulsen, said, "this isn't a reason for people to come together; this is a celebration of life."
FARGO — Nearly 30 people from the Liberian community came together for a candlelight service and to show support for the Paulsen family on Friday, June 25, at the site where Daisy “Jupiter” Paulsen was attacked.
While on her way to visit her mother before work, Jupiter, 14, was stabbed repeatedly on June 4 in what the family described as a random attack. She died about four days later.
Arthur Prince Kollie, the 22-year-old man charged in relation to Jupiter's death, is of Liberian descent.
“We condemn the act committed by a Liberian brother, and we come here today to say we are sorry,” said Ebenezer Saye, president of the local Liberian community. “What happened to this young girl could have happened to my daughter.”
“We are here to pray with you. We are here to work together and open a cordial relationship, open a way where we can live in peace with the community. We are here today to light a candle and stand with you,” Saye said after candles were lit.
Jupiter’s mother, Antonia Johnson, thanked everyone for coming to the service held outside of Party City on 13th Avenue.
“This isn’t a reason for people to come together; this is a celebration of life,” Johnson told the crowd.
“Today was very hard, but to be able to get together with people in the community who I never thought would reach out, I was surprised, and in a beautiful way,” Johnson said.
Father Robert Paulsen said the service was positive and despite the anger he feels he plans to “stay the positive course."
“It’s still really unreal, trying to keep composure. It is hard. And I know I’m going to be under a microscope, but if I focus on the negative, nothing will change,” Paulsen said.
Paulsen plans on fighting for judicial change and discovering why the system allows repeat offenders out of jail early. So far, Paulsen said, no legislators or other elected officials have reached out to him or his family.
Kollie, with no permanent address, has a criminal record that includes previous felonies. He was once sentenced to serve two years in prison, but was released after serving 27 days on the condition that he successfully complete 18 months of probation.
Jupiter was choked and stabbed more than 20 times over the course of about 20 minutes, according to her father and court records. The attack that occurred near Party City, 4340 13th Ave. S. in Fargo, was partly captured on security video.
Kollie was arrested following an investigation that began June 4 after a garbage worker witnessed a man leaning over Jupiter with one hand on her nose and the other on her throat. He later fled the area, but police traced him to a Walmart story about a half a mile west of where the stabbing occurred, according to court records.
Kollie faces charges of murder, robbery and aggravated assault in connection with the attack.
Barnabas Gbeintor, pastor of the River of Life Church, also condemned the act during the service.
“North Dakota is a great family state. No one expects something like this to happen and it is not in our nature,” Gbeintor said.
Gabriel Barbly, pastor of Harvest Intercontinental Church, prayed with the family saying that “it is very unfortunate that we have to meet in this atmosphere."
“We understand on earth there is a time for everybody. Here, it is a sad, sad thing, but we look forward to God to give strength to your family,” Barbly said.
At the end of the service, helium balloons that were provided were released into the air.
"I am sure she is smiling right now and saying thank you. To dad, thanks for being strong," said Nestor Sandy, another leader in the Liberian community, who also spoke during the service.
A public service to honor Jupiter and bring awareness to violence is planned for 5 p.m. Sunday at Scheels Arena, according to her obituary. Also, the Liberian community plans to set aside July 10 as a day for fasting and praying for Paulsen and his family.