PURCELL, Okla. – About 1,000 people mourned 10-year-old Jamie Rose Bolin on Thursday, struggling to cope with her loss days after her abused body was found in the closet of a downstairs neighbor.
"Maybe heaven needed another rose to add to its bouquet," pastor Duane Elmore said at the funeral in the Purcell High School gymnasium. "It only took her 10 years to earn her wings."
Members of Jamie's Girl Scout troop wept during a video presentation chronicling moments in her life, including clowning around with friends.
A photograph of the girl and a large bouquet of flowers were on top of the white casket bearing her body. Country music, including Oklahoma native Carrie Underwood's "Jesus Take the Wheel," played during the service. Law enforcement officers attended the service and spoke briefly to members of the family.
"I want to tell you today it's O.K.," Elmore said. "She is with the Lord."
The pastor told Jamie's family the community would continue to support them.
"Long after the cameras are gone and the headlines change, there will still be people in Purcell who love you," Elmore said, his voice quaking with emotion.
The funeral program said Jamie was fond of "singing, sewing, riding four-wheelers and watching movies." A poem on the program included the stanza, "Now you're gone from our sight, we'll see you every night when the stars shine bright."
After the service, the casket was placed in a white hearse for a 60-mile trip to Guthrie, where she was buried on a hilltop overlooking farmland. Children released green balloons into the cloudy sky.
Kevin Ray Underwood, 26, is charged with first-degree murder in Jamie's death and is being held without bail. Prosecutors said he killed her, sexually abused the body and had planned to eat her corpse. They will seek the death penalty.
Authorities say Underwood, a grocery store stocker, led authorities to his apartment April 14 after he drew officers' suspicion at a nearby checkpoint. Jamie, who had last been seen two days earlier, was found dead with deep saw marks on her neck, in a large plastic tub sealed with duct tape in his bedroom closet.
Authorities believe Underwood lured the child into his apartment, beat her on the head with a wooden cutting board and suffocated her with his hands and duct tape. A judge has entered a not guilty plea on his behalf.