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Friends step up in support of slain mom, children

bigjoe • Jun 15, 2011 at 11:00 PM

It has been a long two weeks for the friends and family of Maria Vera, who died early Tuesday morning. Vera was viciously attacked June 1 and spent 14 days in Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center in Toledo.

Vera, 22, was stabbed at her mother-in-law's house at 5820 Hill Road in Berlin Township. Jeremy P. Gallant, 26, who was back in court Monday, has been charged with attempted aggravated murder, felonious assault and tampering with evidence.

He pleaded not guilty Monday to all three charges.

"Jeremy has been returned to prison to continue to serve the sentence that was suspended when he was released on community control prior to this incident," said Capt. Paul Sigsworth of the Erie County Sheriff's Office.

"What will happen, to my understanding, additional charges could be brought when the grand jury meets again. In the meantime, Jeremy will remain in the state penitentiary. We will have a hold on him on the original charges we have against him."

"Our detectives have been in touch with the Lucas County Coroner's office and have received some preliminary reports."

After Monday morning's arraignment hearing, Gallant waived his rights as next of kin, which allowed for Maria to be removed from life support.

"It's been devastating," Maria's friend, Krista Lewis said. "She was a great mom and a great girl. It was an ongoing, long situation (with Gallant). She was breaking away from him and this happened."

Lewis said she knew Vera through a friend, Mandy Adams.

Lewis and John Rose organized a vigil Tuesday night at the former Giant Eagle parking lot in Norwalk.

About 75 people attended.

"It really wasn't an organized thing," Lewis said. "We just posted something on Facebook and it flooded the Internet. We didn't think it was going to be that big."

"I wasn't surprised. I know a lot of people really care about her. My Facebook page isn't public, but my friends copied and pasted it to their pages. John Rose is very good friends of the family. He had a lot to do with the vigil."

Vera's two children, a boy, Jeremy Jr., 2 1/2, and a girl, Corina, 9 months, are in the temporary custody of her sister from Texas.

"She (Maria) lived with me and I have their children," said Beverly Vera, Maria's step-mother. "They are staying with me until July (when a permanent custody hearing will be held)."

Memorial services will be held at Western Reserve High School in gym from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

There are a number of fundraisers set up for Maria.

There are two events June 26 -- a cut-a-thon from 4:30 to 7 p.m. at Chicago 29 Hair in Norwalk and a spaghetti dinner from 2 to 7 p.m. at Rolling Acres Golf Course in Nova.

At the cut-a-thon, wet-down haircuts will be $10 with all proceeds going to Maria's family. Also, purple wrist bands with her name on them will be sold for $5 apiece.

There also is a spaghetti dinner slated for 3 to 11 p.m. July 23 at the VFW in Norwalk. For more information on the VFW event you can call Katie at (419) 706-1714, Tiffany at (419) 577-9806, Chelsea at (419) 577-1187, Sam at (440) 506-3539, Brandy at (419) 577-1162 or Bonnie at (440) 787-8970.

There are money buckets at various stores and restaurants and the "Maria Vera's Fight for Life" account has been set up at PNC Bank.

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