Dystiny Myers was remembered Wednesday as a young, vibrant girl whose life was taken too soon.
A white casket adorned with yellow, pink and lavender flowers sat in the center of Pacific Christian Center in Santa Maria. More than 300 people came to pay tribute to the young woman, allegedly a murder victim.
Myers touched many — as a daughter, granddaughter, sister, niece and friend — and those who knew her spoke of the positive way she had impacted their lives.
“We’re numbed we’re heartbroken,” said the Rev. Rick Bloom, the church’s pastor, who eulogized Myers’ service. “We come here in these moments to thank God for the joy this little girl brought to our lives.”
The Santa Maria teenager’s burned body was found Sept. 26 in a remote area near Santa Margarita, a little more than a month after her 15th birthday. Five people have been arrested and charged with murder. Investigators have not disclosed how or why she died.
“We are all the poorer for her passing,” Bloom said.
Friends of Myers’ in Pacific Christian Center’s youth group recalled Wednesday with words and song the lasting imprint she had on their lives.
Quentin Johnson told the crowd that Myers, who he met through church when he was 8 years old, was the first person in his life to die.
She was also his first love.
“I thought me and her would always be together,” Johnson said. “When I got the news that she had run away, I sat at church with an empty chair beside me and waited.”
But weeks passed, then months, and then the news came that Myers had died.
Kathleen Clark, her grandmother who had raised her from a young age, thanked the packed church for their support and said, “Keep us in your prayers. We have a long road to go.”
Photographs and a video of clips from various church summer camps and performances in which Myers had participated showed a girl who was happy, friendly and devoted to her faith.
“How do you find words to express the devastation in the hearts of this family?” Bloom asked. “How can we live with that fierce, blazing rage that someone took this young child?”
Bloom advised those people dealing with the pain of Myers’ loss to look inward and reclaim a sense of joy in their lives.
“The people who took Dystiny from us must not be allowed to take our souls from us,” Bloom said. “I pray that justice will be served.”