With music, laughter and a variety of animals, family, friends and members of the community celebrated the life of Amber Dubois Saturday.
The 14-year old Escondido teenager was the focus of a year-long search until her body was found a rugged, remote area of Pala, in northern San Diego County.
One after another, speakers stood on the stage in front of a huge bouquet of purple flowers and talked of Amber's love for animals and her dream to work with them as a career. In front of them, a huge flower arrangement spelled out Amber's name on the stage.
Amber’s father Moe Dubois thanked the crowd for attending and supporting the family and then asked for their help to demand legislation be enforced.
For every tear that may have been shed for a child who was abducted and killed, Dubois asked the crowd to spend one minute of action protecting our children.
“Amber didn’t need to die for nothing. Chelsea [King], Danielle [van Dam], Polly [Klaas], these are all children taken far too young,” Dubois said. “We need to protect the children we have left.”
Amber Dubois’ death struck a chord with many according to Escondido High School Principal Rich Watkins who recalled the moment at a recent candlelight vigil where someone spontaneously started singing “Amazing Grace.”
“My prayer today for Moe and Carrie and the family and everyone else here is that grace, that amazing grace would manifest itself in peace and comfort today and in the days ahead,” Watkins said.
Taylor Doyle, a longtime friend of Amber, talked of reading and laughing with Amber. She dreamed of growing up and continuing her friendship with Amber as they graduated high school, got married and raised kids. “Whoever did this robbed me from having this legacy. We were supposed to be friends forever,” she said.
Photos of Amber’s life were edited in a video to several songs including Elton John’s “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” and Cindi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.”
Amber was a smart and loving student, as well as one who really cared about people, her fourth grade teacher told the crowd. She left an imprint on his heart one day when he asked if he could pet her horse. “First you have to look into its eyes,” she told him. “Do you see it?” she asked him. “Look hard, don’t you see its spirit?”
The ceremony, started at 1 p.m. in the football stadium at Escondido High on 1535 N. Broadway.
Amber's family and friends held a private funeral service Friday in Orange County ahead of Saturday's public memorial.
Escondido police announced they were acting on a tip when they found skeletal remains near Pala March 6. Later that day they had identified the remains using dental records and had contacted McGonigle and Moe Dubois.
“It’s not the outcome that we wanted but you know what, we know where she’s at," Amber's mother said several days after the discovery of her daughter's body. "I would hate to go through life not knowing.”
“We know she’s safe now, she’s not being hurt anymore but there’s still a lot of justice that needs to be done,” said her father.
Convicted sex offender John Gardner -- who has been charged with the murder and possible rape of Poway teen Chelsea King, who was slain last month -- has been connected by police to the investigation into Amber's death.
We had planned to live stream the memorial beginning at 1 p.m. Due to technical problems, we are unable to provide a live stream. NBCSanDiego will publish large portions of the ceremony and embed them into this article this afternoon. -- Ed.