Crowd of strangers show for 5-year-old’s funeral

Damyan and Alexander Stephens, left to right, were brutally beaten by three women in Middletown, Ohio April 27, 2016, police said. Alexander died from his injuries. (Photo: Alexander Stephens)

MIDDLETOWN, Ohio (WDTN) –¬†Hundreds crowded 5-year-old Alexander Stephens funeral Thursday morning.

For Marquita Turner it was exceptionally hard, she was one of the nurses who took care of him at the hospital.

“Alex may not know the impact he has had on our community. Not being from our community, but he really touched the lives of so many and it’s just comforting,” said Turner, the chief nursing officer at Atrium Medical Center in Middletown.

Police say Alexander and his 6-year-old brother, Damyan, were beaten for hours at a local motel. Damyan is recovering at the hospital and is expected to be okay.

Three women were arrested, two of them including the mother are now charged with murder. Turner says her staff is trained to hold back their emotions, but this case has rocked them.

“This particular type of injury, it really hits the core and affects our team and is really just a challenge,” said Turner.

The tragic situation struck a cord with communities throughout the Miami Valley. Bikers rode from West Milton and Columbus to show their support.

“Heartbreak. It hurts to see what happens and goes on with children. It’s hard to understand as a parent myself,” said a man with an organization called, Bikers Against Child Abuse.

The Baker-Stevens-Parramore Funeral Home donated services to the family saying it was simply the right thing to do.

“It was pretty amazing today, the outpouring of people that didn’t even know Alex that showed up to support the family and situation,” said Brad Bryant, funeral director.

Bryant says in his 22-year career, this is one of the worst cases he’s ever seen.

“I was dumbfounded, angry because of what happened and then very sad to think of a tragic loss for a little boy like that,” said Bryant.

Both Bryant and Turner says they’ll hold the children in their lives a little tighter.

“We can choose to respond with bitterness or we can become better. I hope this community works to become better and we can make something good come out of this,” said Turner.

Services for the family will be held on Friday at noon in Kirkersville. The boy will then be laid to rest in Reynoldsburg.

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