Maddy's dad: 'My hope is that she is never forgotten'

SANTA CRUZ, Calif.  (KTVU and wires) – The father of an 8-year-old girl allegedly murdered by a teenage neighbor came out of mourning Friday to thank the community for its outpouring of support.

Michael Middleton said in his email statement he hoped that memories of his daughter Madyson “Maddy” Middleton would never fade.

“My hope is that she is never forgotten, and she will remain in our hearts for all eternity,” he wrote. “Please help us keep her spirit alive and thriving, and help celebrate her passing as this community has continued to do.”

He also thanked those who have reached out to him and his family in the aftermath of his daughter’s tragic death.

“I want to express my sincerest gratitude and thanks to everyone, family, friends, law enforcement, search and rescue, Red Cross, the anonymous concerned, and anyone else who I am possibly leaving out for their help, love and support,” he wrote.

“To the people who I have just only met, and to those who I will never meet, you have shown Madyson, myself and Laura and our families so much love and compassion.”

Middleton was also relying on his faith to help him cope.

"I want to believe she was taken from us for a higher purpose and to show the world how to love so much more,” he wrote. “I have seen so much love, and I hope it continues to grow forever and for everyone who she has touched during this heartbreaking time.”

“Again my thanks to everyone involved, I can never say enough. I love and miss you to death my little angel. Love, Daddy.”

For anyone who wishes to help the family with its expenses, there are two official donation fund accounts set up. The addresses are:

Sweet Baby Maddy: and

A neighbor – 15-year-old Adrian Jerry Gonzalez -- has been charged with murder with special circumstances and faces life in prison with the possibility of parole in Maddy’s death. He did not enter a plea at a Thursday court appearance and his arraignment was continued to Sept. 21.