Friends and family packed into a church to say goodbye to the 14-year-old girl whose body was found on a Brooklyn beach earlier this month in a mysterious death.
Shaniesha Forbes' burnt naked body was found in Gerristen Beach Jan. 6, two days after she went missing. Her family said she left for her high school in Williamsburg the morning of Friday, Jan. 4 and never returned home that night.
At the funeral Friday, Forbes' uncle read aloud a letter written by her father Dennis Forbes, saying in part, "My daughter was funny. Her smile was beautiful and bright."
As relatives grieved for the girl at a packed church on Avenue J in Flatlands, they continued to seek answers. Authorities want to know if she died at a party involving drugs or alcohol and friends then panicked and burned her to cover it up, or if she was murdered. Toxicology tests have not yet returned.
"A lot of this stuff looks as though she wasn't killed on that beach," said community advocate Tony Herbert. "Was she brought there alive? I don't know. This family needs closure."
"It really hurts," said Siena Taylor, a cousin of Forbes. "I'm really trying to keep it together because somebody's got to keep it together in the family."
Forbes had burns on her legs, arms and hands and when she was found face up on the beach. A law enforcement official told NBC 4 New York that investigators also located a kerosene can and signs of a bonfire nearby.
Most of the family was too overcome with emotion to speak Friday night. In the past two weeks, there have been prayer vigils and calls for justice.
"No parent should be burying their child. Not at this age," said Herbert.
Relatives and investigators are now waiting for the medical examiner to reveal the cause of death.