DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Family and friends of Nichelle McKnight say goodbye as the search for her 4-year-old son Zaden pushes forward.
Funeral services for Nichelle were held Friday. Her burial honored her with a 21-gun salute. Her sister says the funeral was a celebration of her life, not mourning her death.
“Even though it was sad, we did laugh, smile, cry, share memories,” said Jasmine Cade.
McKnight’s loved ones embraced outside the Greater Love Christian Church.
“Before we walked out, since we couldn’t see her or give her a kiss on the cheek, or see her or, you know, how you just look at somebody and remember, we all kissed the casket. Me, my other sister and then her sister and brother.”
Nichelle and Zaden were reported missing from their Dayton home March 25.
On April 11, Nichelle’s body was found on the banks of the Stillwater River. Zaden is still missing and presumed dead.
Pastor Michael Barringer says the family is getting through this. “Pray. we pray. Being people of faith,” he said.
Community support is also helping the family cope with this tragedy.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars Ohio Charities paid the funeral and burial costs.
They stepped in to help because Nichelle was an active military member. She joined the U.S. Air Force in 2008.
“They were overwhelmed. I just went through the line and I saw her mom and it was pretty overwhelming.”
Nichelle’s sister says it’s comforting to see how many lives she’s touched.
“It makes me feel that she left a big impression on everybody, whether she knew them or not. A lot of people have reached out to us through this story because it is a messed up situation. But, I’m just happy that everybody could still see the good in it.”
Nichelle’s family says their focus now shifts to finding Zaden and laying him to rest like his mother.
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