POST FALLS, Idaho – Hundreds of people carrying balloons gathered Saturday to remember Dylan Groene (search) on what would have been his 10th birthday, with a pastor telling mourners: "God is throwing a better party for him than you could ever possibly imagine."
The boy's body was found in Montana (search) within days of his 8-year-old sister Shasta's rescue earlier this month after the two were allegedly abducted by a convicted sex offender.
Shasta was spotted at a restaurant with the man, who has since been charged with three counts of murder and kidnapping in the deaths of the children's 13-year-old brother, mother and her boyfriend. Their bodies were found in the family home.
All six charges can carry the death penalty. Federal prosecutors have said they will file charges against Joseph Edward Duncan III (search), 42, in the abduction of the children and Dylan's death.
Friends and family on Saturday remembered how Dylan loved video games and motorcycle riding with his dad. Lana Hamilton, principal of Fernan Elementary School in Coeur d'Alene, said he also was a fan of monster trucks and Hot Wheels toy cars.
"We love him and we'll miss him," Hamilton said.
Among those at the service was Amber Deahn, the Denny's waitress who recognized Shasta with Duncan and stalled her milkshake order until police could arrive.
"They have us as a family now, too," Deahn said of the Groenes. "This is like burying one of my own relatives."
More than 700 people filled a church for the ceremony.
Shasta, the sole survivor of the brutal crimes, did not appear to be at the memorial service but her rescue was noted by Pastor Jim Putman.
"I thank God for the miracle he gave us bringing Shasta back," Putman said during the hour-long service. "God has plans for that little girl."
In his only reference to Duncan, the pastor said: "God takes care of evil, and I can trust him to do it. When he punishes, he does it far better than I could ever do."
During the service, Putman called for changes in sex-offender laws to better protect children. Putman also read a note from the boy's father, Steve Groene, who thanked community members and law enforcement.
After the service, Steve Groene led mourners outside where he released the first of hundreds of red and blue balloons that floated up into the overcast sky.