Overflow crowd attends funeral service for slain Southern California teenager

Mourners packed a Southern California church Thursday to say goodbye to Norma Lopez, a 17-year-old girl who was abducted just blocks from her school then killed.

Family members, classmates, police and community members filled St. Christopher Catholic Church in Riverside County, with the overflow crowd watching video monitors of the funeral Mass in a separate hall.

Even more people gathered on a sidewalk in front of the church.

White-gloved pallbearers brought Lopez's casket into the church, where it was covered with pink and white roses and placed at the head of the sanctuary with candles and photos of the teenager.

Teenage girls hugged and cried outside the church.

Lopez was abducted July 15 as she walked to a friend's home after a summer school class at Valley View High School, police said. Her body was found five days later in a field two miles away. No arrests have been made.

Rev. Miguel Ceja told the 2,000 mourners there was no explanation for what happened to Norma. He also said they must have faith that Norma's spirit would always be present with the spirit of God.

"Norma is not only a memory, she's a part of us. Through her tragic death, she's managed to bring this community together. Let us work together. That can be the best tribute we can give Norma," Ceja said.

People who didn't know the teenager said they were affected by her death and wanted to show support for her grieving family.

"I'm concerned for my children. We want the killer found and we want justice for Norma," Yvette Serrano said.


Information from: The Press-Enterprise, http://www.pe.com