As friends and family drove from the First Baptist Church behind the hearse carrying Emily Rose Perrin on Saturday, small groups of people lined South Main Street in Dupo.
Some held signs as they stood quietly to show their support for the 4-year-old’s family grieving her death. Men removed their hats as cars drove by.
The procession, organized by Leesman Funeral Homes, included law enforcement officials from Dupo, the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department and East Carondolet, as well as members of the Prairie Du Pont Volunteer Fire Department. Cahokia Police also assisted in the procession to Valhalla Gardens of Memory in Belleville.
“I feel so bad for what happened, it’s heartbreaking,” said Andrea Wilson, who watched the procession from outside of her house with two of her daughters, Alexis Rhyne, 14, and Aubrey Bayard, 9, and her niece Aubrey Hock, 8.
They had posters that read “RIP Emily,” “Fly High Em” and “RIP Princess Emily.” The girl loved her princess dolls, including Princess Elsa, and she liked to be called “Princess.”
“They wanted to go to the funeral, but I can’t do kid funerals,” Wilson said. “So I thought we would contribute by making signs.”
I feel so bad for what happened, it’s heartbreaking.
Andrea Wilson, of Dupo
Emily’s mother, Mary B. Lockett, of Dupo, has been charged with first-degree murder in connection with Emily’s death. Prosecutors say she suffocated the girl April 10. Authorities have not discussed a motive. A defense attorney has asked the court that a psychologist be appointed to conduct a fitness evaluation of Lockett.
Lockett’s bail is set at $1 million.
Jessica Hamiel used to be neighbors with Mary Lockett before Lockett moved.
Hamiel was shocked by the death of Emily, who had cystic fibrosis.
“She was such a peaceful soul,” Hamiel said. “She loved her dresses, she loved to play outside.”
Hamiel, who had known Lockett for many years, went to the funeral visitation, even though it was difficult for her to attend.
“I’ve known all her kids, especially her oldest daughter, that all of this has fallen on,” Hamiel said.
She was such a peaceful soul. She loved her dresses, she loved to play outside.
Jessica Hamiel, of Dupo, referring to Emily Perrin
Steve Smith works at Kurrus Funeral Home in Belleville as the director of Continuing Care Services. The family friend officiated at Emily’s service at First Baptist Church.
Smith said Lockett’s mental health may have played a role in the death.
“All of the sudden she was not her, she was someone else,” Smith said.
For the funeral service, Smith said he did not want to focus on the circumstances around Emily’s death.
He planned to have a scripture-based ceremony, talking about Emily’s new life, and reunion of family and friends with her, if they are believers in Christ.
“We’ll focus on two things, the positive reality that Emily is alive and well, without cystic fibrosis, without pain or injury and in the presence of Jesus and all the saints who have gone before her,” Smith said.
Dennis Goddard, who is the building inspector in Dupo, met Lockett and Emily when they moved to their house.
As Goddard waited along Main Street, he said he remembered Emily as a pretty little girl. He wanted show his support for the family as part of the community that came together.
“I have 14 grandkids myself. I know what they’re going through,” Goddard said. “That’s got to be terrible.”