GARY | Teaira Batey's mother stood in front of a crowd mourning her slain daughter, raised her hand, and called out for Jesus.
Gloria Collum and other family members gathered Saturday at the Cornerstone Missionary Baptist Church in Gary to celebrate her Teaira Batey's life. Some in the crowd wore pink, Batey's favorite color.
Two flower arrangements flanked a small, white urn with Batey's ashes. Next to the arrangement stood an enlarged photo of Batey wearing a winter coat slightly turned as she faced the camera. Collum took the photo about a week before her daughter disappeared.
The service comes two weeks after Batey, 28, of Gary, was found dead Oct. 19 in an abandoned home in the 1800 block of East 19th Avenue in Gary. The Lake County coroner's office ruled her death a homicide but has not determined how she died.
The details surrounding her death are still unknown.
She was reported missing by her family in late January. Her longtime boyfriend, Marvin Clinton, said Batey would sometimes leave for a week or two, but she always called to speak to their 2-year-old son.
Collum told the crowd God dried the tears she cried for her daughter.
"The whole nine months I suffered while my baby laid there," she said.
Rev. Carlton Davis tried to comfort the family by suggesting Batey was spiritually reborn during the months she was missing. He compared the rebirth to the nine months Collum carried her in pregnancy.
"Just because you couldn't see her when she was in the womb for nine months doesn't mean she was absent," Davis said. "She's in a better place now."
Batey was born in Chicago and graduated from Highland Park Senior High School in St. Paul, Minn. She moved around 2004 to Gary with Collum to be closer to relatives in Chicago.
She had two daughters who were later placed in the custody of the state and adopted by other families. Batey and Clinton, had a 2-year-old son together.
Her family has said Batey battled with mental health problems and drug addiction.
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Collum said during the service that her daughter sought religion even during difficult periods of life. She recalled seeing Batey in a dream about two months ago where her daughter said she would have to give a religious testimony.
"My baby is an angel," Collum said. "She's my angel."
She repeatedly shouted, "Thank you, Jesus" as she left the podium.
Batey's older sister, Terrima Jones, sobbed through most of the service and read a poem about her sister. She wore a black sweatshirt with Batey's photo that stated, "Rest in heaven baby sister."
"I should have protected you from all of our your fears," Jones said. "Dealing with the distance in our lives over the years was not easy but the love in my heart for you always made it seem like you were near."
Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson told the family it's best to turn to religion when faced with more questions than answers. She said she never met Batey, but knows she led a significant life.
Freeman-Wilson said the city will stand by the family long after the service. Gary police Chief Larry McKinley and Gary police Cmdr. Kerry Rice also attended the funeral.
"We will make sure that neither her living nor her dying was in vain," Freeman-Wilson said.
Clinton told the crowd Batey's legacy will live on in their son, Trevon. He joked Trevon already has the same attitude as his mother.
"It's been a long road," Clinton said. "We had our struggles, now it's time for peace."
Following the church service, the family went to Oak Hill Cemetery in Gary where Rev. Melvin Rone of Metropolitan Church of Christ Holiness in Harvey led the group in prayer.
Collum began sobbing as a cemetery worker and Clinton placed Batey's urn in the ground. Rone sang a religious song as the worker and Clinton placed placed dirt over Batey's unmarked grave.