HOUSTON (AP) — Dozens of relatives, friends, teachers and classmates converged on a Houston church Monday to share grief, hope and memories of a family of eight, including six children, who were killed at their home earlier this month.
The ceremony for the Jackson family took on a bittersweet tone as a gospel choir sang and ministers, public officials and others shared memories with about 200 mourners as eight white caskets were arrayed before the congregation at the Fallbrook Church in northwest Houston.
Killed in the Aug. 8 shootings were 40-year-old Valerie Jackson; her husband, 50-year-old Dwayne Jackson; 13-year-old Nathaniel, 11-year-old Honesty, 10-year-old Dwayne, 9-year-old Caleb, 7-year-old Trinity and 6-year-old Jonah.
David Conley, the mother’s former domestic partner and father of Nathaniel, is charged with capital murder in the slayings. Authorities say he handcuffed most of the family members and eventually shot each in the head.
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“While I’m sure they’re in a better place with the Lord, this is difficult for both families to accept,” Paulette Jackson, Dwayne Jackson’s sister, told KPRC-TV of Houston.
Some of those attending had no prior connection with the family but attended out of sympathy and solidarity.
“I have a family. I have seven grandchildren. I’m thinking this could have been my grandchildren,” Lora Sims told the Houston Chronicle.
The bodies of the family will be taken for burial to La Crosse, Wisconsin, where Valerie Jackson lived for a time.
“I don’t know if you could ever put it behind us what happened, just the very nature of what happened,” Pastor Mike Pender told KTRK-TV of Houston. “I think you learn to cope. As time goes on it gets better, but I don’t know if you ever put it behind you”