Community mourns 3-year-old Pahrump girl

There was no shortage of tears and mournful expressions for a 3-year-old Pahrump girl during Wednesday evening’s candlelight vigil at Ian Deutch Memorial Park.

The ceremony was in remembrance of Yessenia Camp, who died on Saturday.

Charged in Camp’s death is the boyfriend of the child’s mother.

Wednesday’s community event was organized by Pahrump’s KPVM-TV 46 News Director/Anchor Deanna O’Donnell.

“Numerous people throughout the community were approaching me saying they wanted to do something for Yessenia,” O’Donnell said during the vigil. “Unfortunately, we weren’t able to have members of the family here tonight. The community just needed somewhere to mourn. They were feeling lost, so we invited Pastor Jim Scott from Fidelis Christian Church.”

Additional invited attendees, O’Donnell said were from local agencies around the community.

“We have Sally Kerr from No To Abuse here, as well as Willie Baer from the Court Appointed Special Advocate program also known as CASA,” she said. “The community was just looking for somewhere to reach out. We haven’t had anything like this occur in our town in recent memory. People are coming together to express their sadness over this tragedy. There’s anger, there’s sadness, and there’s also disbelief, which is all part of the mourning process. People can always seem to find comfort in one another.”

Expert speaks

Janice Maddox is a licensed marriage and family therapist and alcohol and drug counselor in the community.

Maddox spoke on the issue of child abuse during the vigil.

“Certainly, child abuse is an issue that I work with all the time,” she said. “I work with a variety of issues but I’m specialized in trauma. I became a foster parent to a child who had been abused and had a lot of difficult behaviors. There are ways that we can help these kids. I am certainly very sad for Yessenia Camp and her family.”

Additionally, Maddox noted the various pathways to approach the issue of child abuse.

“I don’t know the circumstances, but I have seen people who had addiction problems and alcohol problems that got clean and sober,” she said. “I have also seen people who had a lot of hate and anger because of their own abuse they experienced as a child, particularly men who have been sexually abused. I don’t know if that had anything to do with this situation. One pathway to becoming a violent person is not dealing with your own hate and anger over your past trauma.”

Maddox also spoke about treating those who have suffered from trauma.

“As a therapist, we should be treating traumas that are approved by entities such as the World Health Organization and the Veterans Administration to help people deal with their trauma,” she said. “My takeaway is that I would just encourage anybody who has had a problem with drugs or alcohol to get help. That goes for anybody who was experiencing problems with anger. I was asked to speak here tonight, and I never turn down an opportunity to possibly make a difference.”

Pahrump resident Jason Harper said he felt compelled to attend the vigil.

“I think what happened is so very tragic,” he said. “I just wanted to come out here and show my support for the little girl. It has bothered me greatly since it was first reported this week. I’ve been involved in different causes here in Pahrump over the years. This is a great community, even though it has gotten quite a bit bigger over the years. It still has that close-knit feel, and this is a prime example of that.”

The case

Nye County sheriff’s deputies arrested Cole Duane Engelson, 38, of Pahrump, on first-degree murder, child abuse and domestic battery on Saturday.

According to the arrest report, Engelson was drying off the child, following a shower.

He told deputies that he had two glasses of vodka and water throughout the day.

“Engelson’s story was changing from she was unresponsive in the shower to she might have been unresponsive when he was drying her off,” the report said. “The only statement that Engelson was consistent with, was that he couldn’t remember what happened to the juvenile.”

Engelson appeared before Pahrump Justice Court Judge Gus Sullivan, on Tuesday during Engelson’s initial court hearing.

Sullivan, who read the defendant his rights during the brief proceeding, set a status check for Engelson on Aug. 2., at 9 a.m.

Contact reporter Selwyn Harris at, on Twitter: @pvtimes

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