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Mourners Pay Tribute to Slain Nurse : Memorial: More than 300 attend service for Kellie O’Sullivan, who is remembered for her love and humor.

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

Slain Westlake nurse Kellie O’Sullivan was bade a tearful farewell Saturday with flowers, anecdotes and a lilting violin rendition of “Danny Boy.”

More than 300 friends, kin, police officers and civilians, many of whom joined a massive 12-day search after O’Sullivan’s disappearance Sept. 14, crowded into St. Jude’s Catholic Church for a memorial service that paid tribute to her humor and love.

Two civilian searchers had found O’Sullivan’s body in a brush-choked gully in the Santa Monica Mountains one week ago this morning. She had been shot to death.

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Police say that 19-year-old Mark Scott Thornton, being held in Ventura County Jail for arraignment scheduled for Tuesday, is the prime suspect in her disappearance.

While speakers at the service dwelt on O’Sullivan’s 34-year life and her roles as a nurse, a mother and an avid marathon runner, they also touched briefly on her sudden death.

“Her body was discovered last Sunday, but her soul was already with God in a place where pain is not remembered, where fear does not exist, where justice at last is served,” said Msgr. Thomas O’Connell, pastor of St. Jude’s, his voice breaking.

O’Connell asked the mourners, many of them sniffing back tears, to remember “this dear and harmless girl, whose pain was brief, thank God, and who was in his arms even as the search continued. Kellie is at peace in a far better world, where there are no hiding places, no violence, no handguns, no carjackers, only love.”

He also spoke warmly of O’Sullivan’s bid to join the Catholic faith through a program offered at St. Jude’s.

“She was so happy and full of life and love” at her last indoctrination class the night of Sept. 13, he said.

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The next day, O’Sullivan disappeared about midafternoon while running errands in the Westlake area.

Probably the last friend to see O’Sullivan alive was Dr. Stefan Feldman, whose office she visited to pick up photos of a grueling mountain marathon the two had run.

“Running long distance can sometimes be tedious and boring,” Feldman said Saturday in a eulogy. “But somehow the miles and minutes would pass more quickly while Kellie was around.”

Feldman drew brief laughter from some of the mourners by saying he would miss O’Sullivan’s “whining about her sore feet.” He recalled how she once gave up a chance to set a personal record in a 10-kilometer race when she stopped to help a stranger who had stumbled and fallen.

And he implored the crowd to maintain the spirit of community that had bound them together in the search for O’Sullivan’s body and the mourning of her death.

“In times of violence, we cannot afford complacency,” Feldman said. “The death of Kellie O’Sullivan cannot become another useless statistic.”

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O’Sullivan’s family sat in the front row. Her 5-year-old son, clutching a small stuffed animal, was flanked by ex-husband Cliff O’Sullivan and mother Sharlene Cunningham. Her boyfriend, Kevin White, sat nearby.

As the service drew to a close, Cliff O’Sullivan pulled himself to his feet and stepped to the podium.

Earlier, he had said he was unsure if he would be able to go through with a eulogy. But now he gathered enough strength to give an off-the-cuff tribute to his ex-wife’s sense of humor and her devotion to her son.

“Kellie had a lot of pet names for me which aren’t suitable to repeat here,” Cliff O’Sullivan said, drawing laughs again from her friends and family. “We had a lot of laughs together. We had hard times together, but I think if she would want us to do anything, it is to remember her sense of humor.”

Every day, she would wake him with a 7:30 a.m. phone call to discuss their son’s agenda for the day, a practice Cliff O’Sullivan said he pretended to hate but secretly loved.

“Our little boy--the only thing we did completely right--she was nuts about him,” he said. “She and I used to talk often about if something were to happen to either one of us, we would not let each other down.”

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He also thanked the friends and strangers who had rallied around the family and lent support to the search and to the family after the discovery of O’Sullivan’s body.

“Your involvement has given us a great deal of strength, so carry on,” said Cliff O’Sullivan.

After the last song had faded, he rose alone, took his son in his arms and carried him out of the packed, silent church.

And as the crowd began to file out, many friends remained in the pews, some sobbing in each other’s arms, others quietly sharing memories of Kellie O’Sullivan.

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