WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Family and friends remembered the life of young Wilder McDaniel by releasing sky lanterns Friday night at the Bowman Cemetery as it’s been one year since he was found dead.
To this date, no one has been charged in his death and the cause and manner of death has been ruled undetermined.
Wilder’s body was found at the Wichita Falls home of James Staley on Irving Place in 2018.
Police conducted a follow-up evidence search at the home of Staley Oct. 22, who has never been named a suspect or person of interest by law enforcement.
Dozens gathered at the Bowman Cemetery in Archer County to remember Wilder.
Around seven was when the sky lanters were released but some showed up as early as 5 p.m.
Following a year of no answers, family and friends of the McDaniels are demanding justice for two-year-old Wilder as today marks a year since he was found dead at the home of James Staley III in Wichita Falls.
They’re demanding justice through a peaceful demonstration at the Wichita Falls Police Department which began Wednesday.
They held up signs and passed out Justice for Wilder stickers and said they’re not backing down.
“It’s hard to believe it’s been a year,” Wilder McDaniel’s grandmother Karen Burke said.
365 days have passed since Jason Wilder McDaniel passed.
“He was a precious baby,” Burke said. “He was full of life, happy, healthy, just a wonderful child. A really, really wonderful child. He didn’t deserve this that’s for sure.”
McDaniel’s loved ones have spent the past three days in a peaceful protest demanding justice for Wilder.
“We’re not really here to cause any trouble,” Burke said. “We don’t want any trouble. We just want people to understand you know that we really would like to have something done. It’s been a year.”
Wilder’s body was found at Staley’s home on Irving Place in 2018.
To date, no one has been charged in his death and the cause and manner of death have been ruled undetermined.
“I mean Wilder’s life, it mattered,” Wilder’s aunt Courtney Bachman said. “It still matters, and it just makes me so mad that it’s being drug out the way that it is. It’s like they’re just sweeping him under the rug like his life had no meaning, and it did.”
The WFPD released this statement to us Friday:
“This is an ongoing investigation, and like with all open investigations, in order to maintain the integrity of the case we are limited in what we can share with the public.”
Although there have been no updates in the case, Wilder’s family has speculations.
“There were only three people in that house, his momma, him, and the man that murdered him,” Burke said.
“It’s hard on its own, but the fact that the man who took his life is still running free and not paying for what he’s done in taking Wilder away from all of us it’s very hard,” Bachman said.
Those standing in demonstration for Wilder hope to get the police department’s attention.
“I mean there have been officers driving by and waving and things like that but there hasn’t been anybody out here to talk to us at all,” Burke said.
Until the family believes they have answers, the message remains Justice For Wilder.
Wilder’s grandmother said they aren’t quitting the fight for him, not until something’s done
At 6:30 p.m. Friday, the family is planning to honor Wilder by releasing sky lanterns at the Bowman Cemetery.
Wilder’s loved ones will also share their favorite memories with his parents.
If you would like to show your support, you can write a note to the family and leave it in Wilder’s mailbox at his gravesite.