Investigators believe Nina Hilt's adoptive mother, Peggy Sue Hilt, beat the child at their Wake Forest Home before leaving to see family in Virginia. That is where the child died. Peggy Hilt remains in a Virginia jail charged with murder. The girl's adoptive father, Christopher Hilt, has not been charged and it is unclear if he is in North Carolina or Virginia.
Because Nina Hilt's death is being investigated in Virginia, Carol Muth and Heather Pattle were left without a way to properly say goodbye.
So, the two friends organized a small memorial for families from the child's Wake Forest neighborhood, or other parents like them who knew the Hilt family from Chesterbrook Academy Preschool. "There didn't seem to be a service or funeral that anybody could attend if they knew the child," Muth said.
The public was invited to attend the service, at Asbury United Methodist Church on Creedmoor Road.
Muth and Pattle are asking people to donate to child prevention services in Wake County.
"You can't help but wonder if you'd seen something, if there was something you should've done," Muth said.
The suspected child abuse death has sparked two simultaneous investigations, one in the United States and the other in Russia where the child was adopted. News reports out of Russia indicate that this case prompted lawmakers there to ask for a temporary moratorium on adoptions to countries where Russian children were abused.
Pattle also wants people to remember Nina, not just the nature of her death.
"I think this will help us all have closure and honor her life," she said.