GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas — A woman charged with killing her 6-year-old son did not do it out of malice but “something snapped” and she needs help, the boy’s grandmother told mourners at his funeral Saturday.
As more than 100 people gathered to remember Camden Pierce Hughes, the curly haired, blue-eyed boy who loved reading and playing the guitar, his grandmother said the family’s world fell apart when he was found dead under his favorite blanket along a dirt road in Maine two weeks ago.
But she cautioned against judging her now-jailed daughter, Julianne McCrery, and said the family was suffering a “double loss.”
“How do we forgive … [her] for committing this unspeakable act? I don’t know,” LuRae McCrery of Curtis, Neb., said during the hourlong service at Calvary Baptist Church in Grand Prairie.
“I know in my heart that Juli didn’t do this out of malice or anger,” she said. “She was a good mother. … She did the best she could with what she had. On that fateful day something snapped, and I pray that she gets all the help she needs.”
Julianne McCrery, 42, of the Dallas suburb of Irving, is being held without bail on second-degree murder charges in New Hampshire. She is accused of killing her son in Hampton, N.H., on May 14 and dumping his body near the state line about 20 miles away in South Berwick, Maine. Preliminary autopsy findings show he died of asphyxiation.
A lawyer who represented her at a brief hearing in Massachusetts, where she was detained after a police tip a few days after Camden’s body was found, said he thinks she may have traveled hundreds of miles from home with the idea of taking her son’s life and committing suicide.
Although Camden last attended kindergarten May 6, he had not been reported missing because his mother continued calling to say he was sick, school officials said. Camden wasn’t identified until four days after his body was discovered, when a family friend in Irving called authorities in Maine after seeing a computer-generated photo distributed nationwide.
LuRae McCrery was not listed in the funeral service program as a speaker, and it was unclear whether she was speaking on behalf of the entire family. Camden’s older brother, Ian McCrery, also has expressed support for their mother.
Linda Gove, a missionary worker who found Camden’s body, spoke at Saturday’s service but did not mention anything about that day. She talked about Camden’s life and said that while relatives and friends may have unanswered questions, God “desires to take that hurt and that pain away.”
White roses and lilies adorned Camden’s small white coffin, which was surrounded by several other floral arrangements. Nearby, a large school picture showed a grinning Camden, his blond curls cropped short and his cheeks flushed.
Camden was in his school’s gifted program and he loved music, drawing and sports, the Rev. Bill Skaar said. He was a happy little boy and was especially close to his brother, who told crying mourners that Camden would not want them to be sad.
“He’s in a better spot right now,” Ian McCrery said.