Friends and family members said their final goodbyes today to 12-year-old Jonathan Foster, the young boy who went missing from his northwest Houston apartment on Christmas Eve. Police say, hours later, his bound and burned body was dumped in a roadside ditch about five miles away. On Tuesday, his family gathered to remember his life that was cut too short.
Today was an emotional day for the family of Jonathan Foster. Saying Jonathan would have enjoyed seeing so many friends and family, his uncle struggled to share memories of his nephew.
"I loved him like my own son and nothing can ever change that," said Jonathan's uncle, Glenn Scrimsher, at the funeral.
Earlier in the day, Scrimsher and Jonathan's grandmother had their one request concerning David Davis. He married Jonathan's mother, Angela, and neither spoke pubicly today.
"To be considered a dad, you actually have to be there for the child, so I would ask everyone to stop referring to (David Davis) as stepdad," said Scrimsher.
"We can't answer questions why, we're just asking ourselves, each and every one of us, and dealing with our own guilt; because there is a guilt in each and everyone one of us. Why couldn't we save this boy," said Jonathan's grandmother, Mary Gifford.
"I was like his father," said Scrimsher. "His first time out in the woods hunting was with me. His first fish he caught was with me. He loved to ride his bike. He loved to play basketball. He had long fingers, perfect for basketball. That is what he loved."
"When he loved, he loved you," said Gifford. "He didn't care that you had to ground him because he didn't do his homework or whatever the case may be. That was just him."
Jonathan's classmates at Durham Elementary School wrote special letters describing what they liked about Jonathan. One says he is now an angel. Jonathan was described as a loving and obedient child who loved to play outside and tell jokes.
Besides family and friends, Jonathan influenced people who never knew him -- people who wanted to show respsect for a little boy who died so suddenly.
"My heart just goes out to the family. I mean, how could you not care? It's just so sad," said Brenda Kallus.
"There's just something about his eyes. I love his eyes and they just touch me," said Patty Starr.
Jonathan's remains will be buried at a cemetery in Pearland. Suspect appeared in court Monday
The prime suspect in Jonathan Foster's murder is 44-year-old Mona Nelson. She is being held without bond on a capital murder charge.
Nelson said little in her first court appearance on Monday. Last week, she professed her innocence during a jailhouse interview with Eyewitness News.
Police have yet to offer a motive for Jonathan's murder, but say they have significant evidence linking Nelson to the crime.
"I'm sure everybody is curious as to why this happened, why this defendant is involved with a 12-year-old little boy," said prosecutor Connie Spence. "And I can't answer that right now."
Prosecutors are confident the 44-year-old acted alone on Christmas Eve and say physical evidence recovered at her home links her to the crime.
Nelson's attorney, Allen Tanner, told Eyewitness News by phone, "She is not the cold, soulless killer police are making her out to be."
But for Jonathan's family, it's hard to put feelings into words.
"The Lord will deal with her," said Schrimsher. "The laws we have in place will deal with that and it's not going to bring him back, but we have Jonathan."
They are focused on remembering what they describe as a full life, even though it was just 12 short years.
"All his manners and the way he carried himself, that was me, instilling on him how to grow up and be a man and I think he did that until the end," said Schrimsher.
Jonathan's family says they hope his case will prompt improved response times on missing children. They fear if predators know there is a window of opportunity, they will take advantage of it.