In a eulogy for the parents of the seven Campbell children, Nakia King plans to ask the same community that has supported the kids since their parents died last week to support them after the funeral Thursday.
King’s friend of more than 16 years, Cristy Campbell, died last week after police said she drove her car into Highland Silver Lake with her newborn baby, who narrowly survived. Cristy Campbell’s ex-husband, Justin “Jay” Campbell, was shot to death in Cristy Campbell’s home in Glen Carbon. The mysterious circumstances surrounding the deaths unfolded after a devastating fire at the home on Dogwood Lane.
“Tomorrow we will officially be saying goodbye to a loved one who left too early,” King said. “We loved her, we loved those babies. We want to continue to support them. I really want them to carry the memories, the love, those smiles that they carry from both parents, to remember that they were loved.”
King met both Cristy and Justin Campbell when they all worked at Taco Bell as teenagers. She knew Cristy Campbell before Campbell had her first child, one of seven. King said the woman she knew would “go the extra mile for friends, family and foe,” and had a “gentle heart.” She was a hard-working, devoted and loving mother whose “heart was for her family.”
Comments from Cristy Campbell’s former employer mirror King’s statements.
Though she didn’t know Justin Campbell as well as Cristy, King said, he was also a loving father.
“Whether people understood what was going on (between Cristy and Justin Campbell), they worked it out and stayed in it together, raising beautiful children,” King said.
Court records hint at what may have been a rocky marriage, with a divorce finalized in 2013. A year later, Cristy Campbell requested supervised visitation for her ex-husband, alleging that two of the children told her he had pinched, punched and choked them.
“Nobody knows what happens behind closed doors,” King said. “At the times that I did engage with him, I saw him out in public. He was always smiling.”
Last week’s startling events sparked off “a season of hurt” for the Campbells’ family and friends, King said. As authorities continue to investigate the deaths, King said she is trying not to react to what she termed “vulgar” posts on social media and “blatant assumptions” about what happened.
“People are entitled to their opinions, but we don’t know and nobody truly knows what she was emotionally dealing with. Nobody knows those things,” King said. “We can assume, but I’d rather not. The situation is hard in and of itself. It’s not going to help anyone if we keep making blatant assumptions because nobody really knows.”
Though the children continue to smile through their pain, King said, cruel words and rumors could negatively affect them. She encouraged the community to continue supporting them as they have recently.
“We need to continue to be thoughtful of the family as a community in what we say and how we say it,” King said. “Because we don’t want to break these children down.”
A visitation for Justin and Cristy Campbell will be held from 3 to 7 p.m. Thursday at Irwin Chapel, located at 591 Glen Crossing Road in Glen Carbon. Funeral services will follow. Irwin Chapel and any Bank of America branch are accepting donations for the Campbell Children Trust Fund. Donations will also be accepted at Edwardsville School District 7 by contacting Adam Garrett, director of student services, at firstname.lastname@example.org.