DeSOTO — They remembered smiles that lit up rooms and laughter that echoed through the halls. Memories of strong, healthy and happy children. On Friday and Saturday at the Eternal Rest Funeral Home in DeSoto, dozens of people poured into the chapel room to honor the lives of three children killed two weeks ago in an Italy, Texas, home.
Their small caskets were customized based on their interests — for 6-year-old Legend Chappell, a red and blue Spider-Man design, and for 5-year-old twins Ayden and Alayiah Martin, Batman and princess themes. All three were born in Dallas.
About 70 people filled the chapel pews Saturday morning to remember Legend, the oldest of the five children who were stabbed March 3 at a home on Harris Street, near Stafford Elementary School which all three attended. A service for the twins was a day earlier.
A 4-year-old boy and a 13-month-old girl also were seriously wounded in the attack, authorities said, and the children’s mother, 25-year-old Shamaiya Deyonshanaye Hall, was arrested on charges of capital murder and aggravated assault.
On Saturday, mourners spoke about the time they cherished with the children even as questions linger about their deaths. They said they know there are more angels in heaven now.
They prayed, they sang, and they clapped in unison. They embraced one another.
“I didn’t expect for this to happen, not like this,” said LaTanya Reese, Legend’s grandmother. “Legend is a beautiful baby. If anyone spent five minutes with him, they would know he’s a beautiful baby.”
Most of all, he loved life, she said. He was full of it.
Reese was one of the first family members to speak at the service. Through tears, she spoke about Legend’s interests — his love for basketball, his heart and his smile. Her husband, Robert Reese, handed her tissues and comforted her as she wiped tears from her face.
“I just want you to know that I loved you,” she said. “Granny loved you with all her heart. But I got to let you go.”
His great uncle, Lorenzo Anderson, said Legend looked just like his father. He asked the crowd to remember how precious life is and to love one another.
Pastor Xavier Tippens prayed for the family to find strength and healing. As he spoke, the crowd responded with amens.
“Oh God, we need like never before, God,” Tippens said. “We need you in the time of bereavement, Father. Touch the grandmothers, Father, touch the grandfathers, touch the mothers, touch the fathers. We ask you right now God to give them your understanding.”
Employees of the funeral home then opened the casket for mourners. By Legend’s side was a Spider-Man figurine.
Thomas Flowers, a funeral home employee, then carried a crown up the aisle to the casket, walking with outstretched hands. He turned to face the crowd, then turned back and placed the crown on Legend’s head.
One by one, relatives and loved ones stood in line to see Legend a final time. They shook their heads in disbelief and broke down in tears.
The last to see him was LaTanya Reese. She knelt close to him and cried, staring at her grandson — her “little Spider Boy,” she called him.
Afterward, they all exited the chapel to bury the boy who loved to be Spider-Man.