News 12 First at Five, December 5, 2007
AUGUSTA, Ga.---"When I heard about this tragedy it really just hardened my heart, I just can't really don't really want to talk too much about it," said Lula Brown. She was one of hundreds who came out to Whole Life Ministries today looking to remember little Shakayla and Jordan Hawes.
"Yes, I took off my job to come," says Patricia Clark. She, like many, says she didn't know the family but felt compelled to share in the memorial. "I felt the least I could do was to show my respect for the children."
"I most definitely did, because I'm one that have kids, and you know the whole situation in itself was a sad situation," said Derrick Monk. "I just want to show some love at this time."
Over 700 people filled the seats at a room in the chapel and also in an overflow room where video and audio was set up. Even Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver spoke out: "My heart just goes out to the family, and I would just ask for everybody to pray for them as it is a difficult time for them."
The children's caskets were white and trimmed in gold. It was a funeral fit for a king and queen. "And that's what we wanted, these children to have a Christian, proper, respectful funeral," says Helen Blocker-Adams.
To date, $18,000 dollars has been raised in the Shakayla and Jordan Hawes memorial fund.
"They look like two angels laying there. They didn't look like anything had happened to them. They were very well taken care of."
"This is real life or death. This real you know...we're not here forever, and to see the outpour of the crowd today has given me reassurance that God is still in control," says Dana Wideman.
Even still, the family is grieving. Gary Willingham says he was like a father figure to Jeanette Michelle Hawes, the children's mother who stands accused in their deaths, and he says he is now fighting an emotional battle.
"Fighting off the thoughts that maybe I should have asked somebody else to help her, you know, somebody professional that could have helped her, but I didn't see this in her," he said.
"I been knowing Michelle ever since she was a baby, she was a sweet girl, but you know it's just sad," says Lula Brown.
It is a tragic story that has brought the community together.
"It's our duty as Christians to support and love one another in times like these."