Classmates and neighbors sang "Amazing Grace" and prayed for the safe return of 12-year-old Brittany Mae Smith who disappeared last week and police believe is with the 32-year-old man who is being sought for questioning in the murder of Brittany's mother.
"We all love her and we all miss her and we pray to God that she comes back unharmed," seventh graders Taylor Pille and Nikki Dunn said at a prayer vigil Tuesday night in Salem, Va.
Police first issued an Amber Alert for Brittany on Monday after discovering the dead body of her mother, 41-year-old Tina Smith.
Tina Smith's coworkers called the police when she didn't show up for work at a retirement home Monday.Autopsy results revealed on Tuesday that Tina Smith was murdered.
"We have an active homicide investigation," state police spokeswoman Corinne Geller told ABC News. Geller said investigators were not releasing the cause of death or the time of death.
Police did release a surveillance camera photograph that captured Brittany leaving a Walmart store in her hometown of Salem, Va., Friday evening in the company of Jeffrey Scott Easley, a 32-year-old landscaper who met Tina Smith online this summer and moved into their house in October.
In the photo, Brittany appears at ease with the 265 pound Easley.
Geller said police do not yet know whether the Walmart photo was taken before or after Tina Smith's murder.
"We are still investigating to determine if the picture was taken before or after her death," the spokeswoman said.
Tina Smith was last seen alive leaving her home with Brittany early Friday morning.
When asked whether Brittany may have left home willingly with Easley, Geller replied, "We are pursuing all possibilities. We are concerned about her well being and safety."
Geller also said, "As far as their relationship, we are still trying to determine that... we are not certain right now. But she is 12 and he is 32. She's definitely at risk."
On her Facebook page, Brittany identifies herself as Brittany Easley.
Easley's mother Sallie Martin appeared at a police news conference Tuesday to plead with her son to turn himself in.
"From what I know about you and Brittany...." she said at one point, but didn't finish the sentence. She added, "I know you're taking care of Brittany. If you would just take her somewhere and drop her off."
Referring to Tina Smith's homicide, Geller said, "We have not identified a suspect or obtained an arrest warrant."
But police have filed charges of attempted credit card fraud and credit card larceny against Easley because the Walmart purchases were made with Tina Smith's credit card, according to a press release from the Roanoke County Police Department.
Roanoke County Police Chief Ray Lavinder asked motorists to be on the lookout for Tina Smith's 2005 silver Dodge Neon with the Virginia tag XKR-2365.
They are also hoping that Brittany is able to use her cell phone and send a message to one of her friends who she is normally is daily contact with.
"We certainly hope that they [Brittany's friends] can provide some information that we don't have at this time. We understand that she had some very close friends and she was in touch with them on an almost daily basis," Lavinder said.
"We are extremely concerned with Brittany's safety," the chief said.