FRANKFORT — Marking three months after Ana Romero's death, family and friends stood in a grassy area not far from where she died.
"We are here to grieve for the loss of one taken from us too soon," said the Rev. Steven Pace of Frankfort.
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Romero, who was set to be deported back to El Salvador, was held for several weeks in the Franklin County Regional Jail. The night before immigration officials were to pick her up, she was found hanging in an isolation cell. She was pronounced dead early the next day.
Outside the jail Friday, near a picnic pavilion, about 150 people stood in the bitter cold with small candles and listened to pastors and other speakers try to make sense of her death.
Many details of what led to her death remain unknown. The Franklin County coroner and commonwealth's attorney have an open investigation. It also appears that Romero should have been released before her death because of an expired immigration detainer.
"If anything was done wrong here, we want to make sure justice is done," said Brian Rich of the Kentucky Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.
Family members at the vigil stood near a candlelit memorial with a large poster of Romero. Romero's sister Blanca Romero Aguilar said the family was comforted to see so many people turn out to remember Ana. She added that their fight for justice is not just about her sister, but all immigrants.
Romero's son Eric said the family still doesn't know what happened. Jail officials have declined to comment, citing the investigations.
Jailer Billy Roberts let the crowd use the jail's bathrooms and warm up inside the building. Freddy Peralta, president of KCIRR, said the group was grateful for the gesture of kindness.
"They are very sad for what happened in the jail," Peralta said.
"We hope there will be an opportunity to clarify all the facts around Ana's death."