NEW ORLEANS -- A desperate search for 6-year-old Ahlittia North finally led investigators to find her stabbed to death in a trash can last week.
Monday, her family laid her to rest after an emotional funeral for the little girl. Hundreds of friends and loved ones gathered at the Christian Assembly Church in Gonzales to pay their respects.
It was the most difficult of days for her family members. Photos of Ahlittia looking full of life surrounded her remains in a tiny casket at the front of the church.
Some of her loved ones were so distraught they had to be carried out of church.
The hundreds gathered celebrated Ahlittia 'Dancing in Heaven' like she enjoyed doing with the Dance Makers team in Donaldsonville. Until May, the little girl was living with the cousin of her stepfather, Brandalyn Johnson.
'When you left in May, you said, 'Mama, I'm not coming back.' I didn't quite understand what you meant,' said Johnson in a letter to Ahlittia that was read by another family member at Monday's service.
'Moma always said there was something special about you. So, no matter what you went through on earth, god has now given you your wings. So, fly, high, baby girl. Fly high,' she continued.
Ahlittia's biological mother, Lisa North Hill, also sat with her husband Albert Hill in the front row during the service.
Ahlittia's biological father, Mark Johnson, sat in between her two moms with his head in his hands.
'I cannot imagine the pain that her family is going through. I just pray that justice is served and that God will heal their hearts,' said the principal at Ahlittia's school, Mary McMahan.
She gave a tearful tribute to Ahlittia. Family members wrote in the funeral program. Last year was the first year the 6-year-old had been permitted to attend school.
'She was beautiful on the outside and on the inside. She was happy. She was smart,' McMahan said.
Family members will now travel with Ahlittia North's tiny casket to Donaldsonville where she will be forever laid to rest.
The Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office and a court commissioner are still withholding information about why the suspect, 20-year-old Matthew Flugence, may have killed North. He's being held on a first-degree murder charge in Jefferson Parish.