Feb 28, 2020

Daniels burial draws emotional crowd

Bishop Hill chapel where Laurie Daniels' funeral was held
Bishop Hill chapel (File Photo)
A dark cloud of anguish and bewilderment still hovered over the town here as Laurie Daniels was put to rest in Bishop Hill Cemetery this afternoon.

Friends, relatives and other saddened townsfolk turned out en masse to offer their grief over the former Oxonian's horrifying death.

Nearly 300 mourners arrived at Bishop Hill's tiny chapel for the funeral. The crowd spilled into the parking lot, and those who could not find a seat inside waited until the service moved outside to the grave site.

Reverend Jonathan Everett gave a poignant service, and Daniels' former fiancé, Forrest Burgess, delivered a moving eulogy.

A gruesome death

Daniels, 25, was the victim of a brutal killing that has terrified the town. The Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department discovered her head in a bucket near Taylor Creek on February 22.

Throughout April, several other body parts, later identified as Daniels', were found as far away as Toccopola, Bruce and Batesville.

An investigation into Daniels' death is currently underway, and the sheriff's department maintained a visible presence at the memorial services, though whether it was to provide security or keep an eye out for possible suspects is unclear.

Remembering Laurie

A former prom queen and local teenage favorite, Daniels had been away from Oxford for seven years in various parts of the country before her ill-fated return.

Friends and family who tried to catch up with her over the years were met with disheartening news. Some heard she had abused drugs and alcohol, while others had reason to believe she was involved in bizarre religious sects.

Yet these rumors did not deter the people who loved and remembered her fondly from paying their final respects.

"We are all shattered and sore to the pit of our souls over the violence of Laurie's departure," said Burgess in his rousing address. "We yearn to know what drove her away from us and what led her to her end. Yet also we are afraid to seek answers to these questions."

A life cut short

Daniels was born on February 22, 1994. She grew up with her family in Oxford and graduated from Oxford High School in 2012. She then briefly attended Northwest Community College before leaving town in January of 2013 on a journey that reportedly led her all over the country.

She is survived by her parents, Bart and Bonnie Daniels of Oxford, and a sister, Melanie, 24, who also left town suddenly several years ago.

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