LA CRESCENT, Minn. – Eight black hearses lined up side by side outside a church in a small southeastern Minnesota community Thursday, each set to carry one member of a slain Houston, Texas, family to their final resting place.
The funeral for Valerie and Dwayne Jackson and their six children, ages 6 to 13, at La Crescent United Methodist Church and their burial at Prince of Peace Cemetery west of town were closed to the media. About 30 members of the Wisconsin and Minnesota chapters of Bikers Against Child Abuse stood guard at the edge of the church property, the La Crosse Tribune reported. They also formed a human wall at the cemetery to shield the burial.
The mother's ex-boyfriend, David Conley, is charged with capital murder in the Aug. 8 shootings. Authorities say Conley handcuffed most of them and shot each in the head. The slain children were 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. Authorities say Nathaniel was Conley's son from his relationship with Valerie Jackson, while the Jacksons were the parents of the other five children.
The Jacksons formerly spent time in La Crosse, Wisconsin, but the funeral was held in nearby La Crescent, Minnesota, because Valerie Jackson's only surviving child lives in the area.
The Rev. Gregg Nelson, of the church where the funeral was held, declined to name the surviving sibling but told the Post-Bulletin of Rochester ahead of the funeral that the child is currently in his confirmation class.
"I don't know that any of the eight have ever been to La Crescent, but they're all going to be buried here," Nelson said.
Nelson said the motorcyclists would be there to give the grieving family some measure of privacy.
The mother obtained a restraining order against Conley in 2008 when they were living in La Crosse. Court records show Conley's criminal history includes a 2008 case in La Crosse County in which Conley pushed and swore at her at a bus stop. He later pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and was sentenced to time served.