Big turnout for funeral of Sarnia teacher Noelle Paquette
Published Tuesday, January 8, 2013 11:39AM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, January 8, 2013 6:34PM EST
A small church in Brights Grove, Ont. overflowed with mourners as about a thousand people turned out to say goodbye to 27-year-old Noelle Paquette, who went missing after a New Year’s Eve party.
Family spokesperson Kyle Braatz says “It didn’t matter if you knew her for ten years or one minute, you loved Noelle right away.”
Paquette’s body was found January 2nd in a woodlot about 20 kilometres southeast of where she was last seen in downtown Sarnia.
Her death has sparked an outpouring of grief in the community.
Many attending Tuesday’s service at St. Michael’s Catholic Church say they didn’t know her personally, but have been touched by her sudden death and her reputation as a kind-hearted, generous and energetic free spirit.
Paquette’s family says right now they are not focused on justice, but on her legacy.
Braatz says “This day has been probably one of the toughest days of my life and guaranteed the toughest day in her friends and family’s lives.”
The Sarnia community has rallied behind the family with hundreds helping in the initial search and over a thousand people attending a vigil held Monday night.
Sarnia Police Service Chief Phil Nelson says “People come together in these times, they work together, they help each other. It’ll take time but they’ll work through it. We’ll work through it.”
A website has been set up to commemorate Paquette’s life at noellesgift.ca. Funds raised will help underprivileged children in Lambton County.
Police are withholding Paquette’s autopsy results are they considered to be evidence in an ongoing court case. The investigation is continuing.
The two people charged with first degree murder in her death, 31-year-old Tanya Bogdanovich and 19-year-old Michael MacGregor, are expected to appear in court on Thursday.