Bryeon Hunter funeral held; 1-year-old Maywood boy's body was dumped in Des Plaines River
September 13, 2013 (MAYWOOD, Ill.) -- Months after his death, family and friends finally bid an emotional farewell to little Bryeon Hunter, whose body was found last May on the banks of the Des Plaines River.
On Friday, Bryeon was finally laid to rest.
"I wish I could hold him and see what he turned out to be when he grows up but it was taken away from me," said Brenda Lloyd, Bryeon's grandmother.
Nearly five months after Bryeon's badly beaten body was found, family and friends gathered at New Beginnings Church and said a tearful goodbye to the toddler who had a bright smile and loved to dance.
Pastor Corey Brooks led the service.
"Our main goal is to make sure we minister to this family and show them some love," Brooks said.
His funeral was delayed until DNA testing confirmed that remains found in May along the banks of the Des Plaines River were indeed that of Bryeon Hunter.
"Not only was he in the water for a month, he was in the morgue for five months," said family friend Dawn Valenti. "That was hard, just want him to rest in peace and today is closure."
The Maywood toddler's disappearance triggered an amber alert after his mother Lakeshia Baker told police the boy had been kidnapped.
Prosecutors say the 21-year-old mother later admitted to authorities that on April 1 her boyfriend, Michael Scott, covered the child's mouth with his hand and held him down while she beat him with a belt and plastic hangers.
They then allegedly left Bryeon on the bathroom floor of their apartment to die before dumping his body in the river, where search and rescue volunteer Robert Larson and his dog Dexter happened upon him in mid-May.
"I'm trying to look at this as a good day for Bryeon to move on to a much better place," Larson said.
Baker and Scott have been charged with first degree murder and both have plead not guilty.
"My daughter's innocent," Lloyd said. "I'm going to stick by my daughter."
Baker's family says Scott is guilty and acted alone.
At one point Chicago Police were called after both families became emotional.
"Everybody got love for the baby," said Scott's cousin, Donavan Madison. "It's not our fault. We all loved him just as much. He touched all of us."
The services ended without incident.
Relatives say they know it will be difficult as they now try to heal and move forward with their lives, lives that will surely try to honor Bryeon's memory.
local, evelyn holmes
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