Benjamin Baldwin, father of the late Emma Marie Baldwin, is shown at Friday's fund-raiser at a supermarket in Coeburn. Steve Igo photo.
COEBURN — The father of a toddler authorities say was slain by her mother and her mother’s boyfriend said Friday he hopes donations will pay for a local memorial service for his deceased daughter.
Benjamin Baldwin, father of the late Emma Marie Baldwin, was at a supermarket in Coeburn on Friday to raise donations from the sale of hot dog dinners and baked goods. The 2-year-old died about a month ago after being transported from Wise County to Knoxville for unsuccessful treatment of injuries authorities believe were inflicted by Juwan Moore, 30, and the girl’s mother, 29-year old Brandie Baldwin.
Moore and Brandie Baldwin were indicted by a Wise County grand jury last week, Moore on one count of capital murder and two counts of felony child abuse, and Brandie Baldwin on one count of felony (second degree) murder, one count of felony child neglect and two lesser counts of child neglect.
On Friday, Emma Marie’s father said a Justice For Emma group he has organized (JusticeForEmma.org) intends to hold a memorial service for his deceased daughter at The University of Virginia’s Convocation Center, and the group needs $1,000 as a deposit to secure the facility.
Originally from Ohio, he said funeral services for Emma Marie were held in Cincinnati, and he wants to provide a local memorial service for all the well-wishers in Southwest Virginia and Tennessee who have provided emotional support for him and his surviving 6-year-old daughter.
“I’ve wanted something so people can pay respects for her down here,” he said. “Just a remembrance service for her. All the people who have come together for the sake of Emma and our family, their hearts love this child and they have a need to honor her the way she needs to be honored, and I think (a local memorial service) will allow this to happen.”
Friday’s fund-raiser confronted a hitch when the grocery chain informed Baldwin and a handful of volunteers that they had to vacate the front of its outlet in Coeburn by 2 p.m. Baldwin said a member of his group apparently failed to get proper clearance from the company for Friday’s fund-raising effort.
“I thought I had it coordinated through one of my planners, so something came up,” he said of Friday’s snafu. However, he said he personally had clearance from Walmart to continue the fund raising on Saturday at the retail chain’s Super Center in Norton.
Baldwin said he is in the process of filing the paperwork necessary to gain nonprofit status for Justice for Emma via the Internal Revenue Service and other appropriate agencies. He said he wants to make a career out of advocating against child abuse.
“I’ve not been able to go back to work because of all of this,” he said of the aftermath of his daughter’s death. “This nonprofit is going to be my career now, to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”