EL RENO, Okla. (AP) — A 25-year-old woman and her four young children who were strangled in their apartment were remembered at funeral services Wednesday as a loving, tight-knit family whose deaths have brought this central Oklahoma community together.
About 300 family members and friends attended services in the gymnasium of Redlands Community College for Summer Garas and her children, who were killed Jan. 12.
The victims' caskets formed an arc on one side of the gymnasium that was full of flowers and stuffed animals, as well as photographs of Garas and her children, ages 3 to 7.
"I've preached a lot of funerals, but none like this one," said the Rev. Gerald Van Horn.
"I first learned of it on the news. I said, 'in El Reno? No way.'"
But Van Horn said the victims' deaths had shocked the community of 16,000 and local residents responded with offers of help and sympathy to the victims' family.
"I realize there are a lot of feelings here today," Van Horn said.
"Where was God when all of this happened?
"God's not far away, God is here, God feels our pain and our hurt," Van Horn said.
Besides Garas, daughters Kirsten Rust, 7; Autumn Rust, 6; and Evynn Garas, 3; and son Teagin Rust, 4, were killed.
Authorities said all five had ligature marks on their necks.
Summer Garas' former boyfriend Joshua Steven Durcho, 25, was arrested Jan. 13 in Texas and waived extradition to Oklahoma. The ex-convict is charged with five counts of first-degree murder and prosecutors say they will seek the death penalty.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.