Family of dead woman honor her at vigil

2010-09-02T00:00:00Z 2011-08-02T16:16:35Z Family of dead woman honor her at vigilBy Deborah Laverty deborah.laverty@nwi.com, (219) 762-1397, ext. 2223 nwitimes.com

LAKE STATION | A handmade wooden cross, with the letters RIP and Jessica Brunker's name, sits just a short distance from where she was found dead.

The cross, made by her godfather Timothy Jarvis, was lovingly placed there Wednesday night during a candlelight vigil in Brunker's honor.

Dozens of mourners, many carrying candles, roses or balloons that they placed near the cross, met at the front of the Flying J truck stop on Ind. 51.

Then all solemnly walked past dozens of parked semitrailers to the the northeast corner, near a riverbank, where Brunker's body was discovered the night of Aug. 25.

Sheri Brunker, Jessica's mom, said she was surprised at the number of people who came to the vigil.

"I am amazed. A lot of people cared," Sheri Brunker said.

She said her daughter, whom she called a beautiful girl with brown hair and brown eyes, left behind four children, ages 1 to 14, as well as eight brothers and sisters.

"We are a big family," Brunker said.

Both Brunker and Jessica's boyfriend, Joseph Witt, said Jessica had been in a good mood the last time they had spoken to her.

"She was trying to get her life together," Witt said.

Jessica's four children all were part of the vigil, including her youngest, Jasmine Brunker, 1, who wore a T-shirt that read, "I love my mommy."

Sheri Brunker said she held the vigil to remember her daughter and others who have died needlessly through some type of violence.

"It's a shame that anyone has to have this done to them," Brunker said, adding, "Somebody cares, and I want them to know that."

The investigation into the death of Brunker is ongoing, and it has most recently included dozens of interviews by police of her friends and acquaintances, Detective Sgt. Kevin Garber said.

He said her cause of death still is pending and it's not yet known if Brunker was murdered.

"We're still trying to fill in the blanks," Garber said.

Anyone with information is asked to call Garber at (219) 962-1186, ext. 1186.

A memorial service for Brunker will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday at United Pentecostal Church of Portage, 2865 Willlowdale Road.

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