SOUTH BERWICK – As about 300 people gathered Wednesday night for a prayer vigil for the little boy whose body was found Saturday off Dennett Road, Manley Gove and his wife, Linda, told a story that brought the audience to tears.

Just five minutes before the vigil was set to start, Gove asked church officials if he and his wife could address the crowd in the First Parish Federated Church on Main Street.

Gove revealed that his wife was the person who found the body of 6-year-old Camden Pierce Hughes, wrapped in a blanket on their property.

“We’ve been silent through it all,” Gove said. “But we wanted people to know that we are not unkind or (not) caring.”

A hush fell over the church as Gove, with his wife at his side, told the story and said they would have welcomed the boy into their family.

“My son told my wife, ‘If we had only known.’ We would have taken him, just like everyone here would have taken him. We weren’t given that chance. The only chance we had was to find Camden on our property,” Gove said.

Gove said that in case the boy’s family does not claim his body, he has made arrangements to have the child buried on a neighbor’s land.

“Even though he is not bone of my bone or flesh of my flesh, it feels like he is,” Gove said.

Linda Gove does missionary work in Africa, helping orphans find homes.

“Camden deserved the right to be loved,” she said. “Though his life ended in a tragic way, he can see that he is very loved.”

The church was filled. People held candles while church deacons read Scripture. At the end of the ceremony, people placed carnations on a homemade wreath that had a ribbon with Camden’s name attached to it.

A candlelight vigil held Tuesday night in front of the South Berwick town office drew a crowd estimated at 400 people.

“We were distraught when we heard about this boy’s death,” Julia Ouellette, a church deacon, told the audience. “We decided to be together in our grief in an effort to find some comfort.”

The Rev. John Skehan praised the Berwicks for demonstrating to Maine and the rest of the country that they are caring towns. He said he was stunned at how quickly the story of the boy’s death and the apprehension of his mother spread around the nation.

“This little child has touched so many hearts,” Skehan said. “But it’s also an opportunity for parents to tell their own children how cherished they are.”

Tyanne Sauve stood outside the church with two friends, holding a banner that said, “In Loving Memory of Camden Hughes.”

The banner had images of the boy printed on it. The 19-year-old South Berwick girl said she got the images off the Internet.

“I feel really bad,” she said. “It sickens me that someone could do this to a little boy.” 

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

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