About 40 friends and family members gathered under cold, blustery skies in this Riverside County community Monday to say goodby to Marcelline Onick, a 3-year-old Fullerton girl who was stabbed to death in her home.
After a brief, closed-casket memorial service at the Evans-Brown Mortuary, mourners journeyed to Perris Valley Cemetery on the outskirts of town and gathered around her grave site as the Rev. Robert Town of Jacob's Well Christian Centre in Fullerton offered final words. The girl was buried with her favorite white unicorn toy and a red rose.
"We need to understand that Marcelline is still alive. Marcelline is in the arms of Jesus," Town said. "We are here to commit the body of this dear child, (and) it is a tragedy. But this child will be with Christ for millions and millions and millions of years."
As Town spoke from a wooden lectern, Joanne Boydston, mother of Marcelline, and Christopher Onick, the child's father, huddled on a bench facing the flower-laden white casket. Boydston cried softly while her estranged husband stared at the ground.
The words did little to console family and friends who just nine days earlier had endured the shock of learning that Marcelline--known affectionately as "Pooh Bear"--was dead from multiple stab wounds.
Michael Robert Pacewitz, 21, an unemployed painter from Fullerton, said in a jailhouse interview last week that he killed Marcelline while baby-sitting her and Boydston's infant son. He also said he stabbed and slightly wounded his mother and her boyfriend in an Anaheim apartment the night before.
Although Pacewitz's name was not mentioned during the funeral service, a current of anger over the slaying surfaced a couple of times. Onick punched a wall in anger after viewing the body of his daughter. The casket's lid had been raised briefly for those wishing a final look.
And, at the grave site, Marcelline's godmother, Viola Bowie, lost her temper after being asked a question about Pacewitz.
"I'm hurting with anger, but I'm leaving him in God's hands," said Bowie, of Lawndale. "God is going to get his tail! We cannot punish him like God will."
Drawing a deep breath, Bowie added: "Marcelline was a living angel. Lucifer himself must have crawled out of hell and gone into that girl's apartment that night."
Pacewitz, in Orange County Jail pending arraignment Thursday on charges of murder and attempted murder, said that he killed Marcelline and stabbed his mother and her boyfriend because the devil wanted him to do it.
Orange County Superior Court records obtained Monday show that he was on probation at the time of the murder for a misdemeanor charge of possession of stolen property.
Funeral-goers tried not to dwell on the tragedy of Marcelline's death, and instead recalled her as a fun-loving, happy little girl.
"She was a doll," Steven Campos, a family friend and fellow church member, said in a eulogy. "She was always really hyper. She'd be jumping on the couch, and she'd want to play hide-and-seek."
Campos, 23, drew laughter when he added jokingly: "She's giving God a hard time up there."
Staff writer Wendy Paulson contributed to this story.