ORANGE PARK, Fla. - Diena Thompson says the pain of losing her daughter two years ago never goes away.
That's the case especially because the man accused of kidnapping, raping and killing 7-year-old Somer Thompson still hasn't been put on trial.
"It still feels like a very bad nightmare I'm waiting to wake up from," Diena Thompson said.
Jarred Harrell doesn't even attend his court hearings anymore.
"I think he should have to stand up every time and have to look at me when he walks in," Thompson said.
She is always at the hearings. It's her promise to her daughter -- justice for Somer.
Thompson is reminded every day of what happened to Somer as she walked home from school in October 2009. She passes right by the house where Harrell lived. It's where investigators say he killed the first grader.
"Yeah, I want it gone," Thompson said of the house. "We're talking to the bank right now since the house has been in foreclosure since she went missing."
"My dream would be to let stations 18 and 19 here in Clay County -- they were real involved, kept banners up for Somer -- let them have practice on it free, and then haul it off and make it into a butterfly garden," Thompson added.
Thompson said she wants to remember the beautiful things about her daughter. Nearby land will soon be turned into a park bearing her daughter's name, Somer's Sunshine Park, in honor of the 7-year-old, whose favorite song "You Are My Sunshine" was sung night after night at vigils following her disappearance.
But she was already gone.
Now Thompson hopes somehow her tragedy will save another child.
"I just want them to remember that I have to believe that this happened for a reason," she said. "Maybe the reason is to remind people that you don't have to be bad for this to happen."
Diena Thompson Talks About What She Thinks Happened To Somer
Somer disappeared while walking home from school on Oct. 19, 2009. Her body was found two days later at a south Georgia landfill.
Two years later, Diena Thompson talked about the warning she gave her daughter about strangers just four days before she was kidnapped.
"She ran out after the dog, and I brought her back in and I said, 'Somer, first you can't run up to dogs. You don't know if they're nice or not. It could bite you,'" Thompson said.
She describes that moment that's etched in her mind when Somer ran out of the house to pet a dog walking by her home with it's owner.
"More than that, you have to worry about who's at the end of the leash," Thompson said. "This is not a pretty world. I was very candid and straightforward about this kind of stuff. There are nasty, terrible people in this world who will hurt you."
It was a lesson she'd given her 7-year-old daughter before hoping, like so many parents who have warned their children about strangers, that the message had sunk in.
Yet four days later, Somer ran ahead of her twin brother and sister as they walked home from school.
Investigators say Harrell, who lived just a few blocks from Somer's elementary school, kidnapped her, raped her and then killed her.
Somer walked by Harrell's house every day to and from school. Thompson said that while it's unknown what happened the day Somer went missing, she thinks it's very possible that Somer was drawn to a dog at Harrell's house that perhaps was in the backyard. Thompson also thinks that Somer probably didn't consider Harrell a stranger because she saw him so often walking to and from school and might have thought he was a nice neighbor.
"She was an angel here on Earth and an angel in heaven now," Thompson said. "She gave her little life so that all of us could know that there's bad people and that they will hurt your babies, and it can happen in the blink of an eye on the sunniest day of the year."
Thompson said it's hard to be happy during the month of October, but she is so thankful to the people of Clay County and the town of Orange Park for wrapping their arms around her even two years later.
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