Family of Aliayah Lunsford reacts to mother's arrest

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LEWIS COUNTY, W.Va (WDTV) - The community in Weston is in mourning tonight, after police confirmed Aliayah Lunsford's death. That sorrow, though, was mixed with anger over Lena Lunsford's arrest in connection to the death of her own daughter.

After Sheriff Adam Gissy's press conference, Aliayah's relatives stood outside the courthouse, distraught.

"I don't know if peace could ever come of this," Tina Smith, Aliayah's aunt, said through tears. "It's just beyond horrible."

Throughout the community, people were horrified by the nature of the alleged crime. Police say Lena "knowingly and intentionally" struck Aliayah in her head with a solid hand held object, inside their Bendale home.

"I can't imagine a little child being struck on the head, hard enough to kill her...by her mother," Vickie Bowen, Aliayah's great-aunt, cried.

The outrage permeated throughout the community.

"She's three years old," Donna Queen, a Weston resident, said in disgust. "This state needs to bring back the death penalty."

According to the criminal complaint, there were other people present at the time of the crime, and that after striking Aliayah, Lunsford prevented them from trying to save the child's life. People in the community tell 5 News that if the allegations are true, those people should be brought to justice.

"Everyone that was involved, I hope they're all charged," Patricia Rager, a Weston resident, said.

"Anybody who knew anything about this....five years....yes, they should be charged with withholding information, absolutely," Bowen added.

Many say news of Lena Lunsford's arrest confirmed their darkest suspicions.

"If my child was missing, I wouldn't be able to eat, sleep, or anything until I found my child," Bill Hinter, who lives just a few houses down from where the Lunsfords lived, remarked.

Sonia Dressler, though, is urging people to refrain from coming to a conclusion.

"You're innocent until proven guilty, and when she is found guilty, then she will pay for her crime," Dressler cautioned.

Aliayah's relatives, though, have made up their minds.

"Lena has no soul," Bowen said. "She has no heart."

Now, they're focused on finding Aliayah's body and bringing her home.

"And to give her a proper, proper place to rest, so she's at peace," Smith said. "She didn't deserve any of this."

You can watch the rest of 5 News' Mike Valente's interviews with Tina Smith and Vickie Bowen, as they process the latest developments, above this article.