First Serial Murder Victim Laid to Rest
The streets around Grace Missionary Baptist Church were packed with parked cars. Inside, the pews were filled with family, friends, and people from across Greater Cleveland, who came to recall the life of 31-year-old Telacia Fortson, who was adopted by her family, at the age of 9.
Grace Missionary pastor Ivory Jones was one of many ministers present who tried to help the mourners come to terms with her death, allegedly at the hands of accused serial killer Anthony Sowell.
REV JONES: Telacia's life was cut short by a selfish, sick individual. She was robbed of her dignity. But, we're here with dignity to give her dignity.
To the left of the pulpit, a line of nurses sat along the wall to tend to any mourners who were overwhelmed with emotion. Pastor Jones noted that Telacia's mother, Inez, started hyper-ventilating during the service and had to be taken to a hospital. Afterwards, family friend Rose Burt recalled that there was a strong bond between Inez Fortson and her adopted daughter.
ROSE BURT: Over the years, Telacia did what most young kids do --- they give you problems, they give you joy, but she stuck in there with her. That's what parents do.
"Family" was a strong theme at the three-hour service. And it was announced that area churches will extend the concept by adopting the families of the Imperial Avenue victims, and helping the with funeral expenses.