Saying goodbye to Jonah
Published: Saturday, January 12, 2013 at 7:30 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 12, 2013 at 7:30 p.m.
OCALA -- More than 200 people gathered Saturday morning inside Wyomina Park Baptist Church to remember 6-month-old Jonah Mendoza.
Pastor Craig Jacobs of First Baptist Church of Citra led the service, which was attended by the baby's father, Jordan, and the immediate family and friends of the infant's mother.
Jonah's mother shot and killed the child on Jan. 4, then killed herself and her unborn child.
During the service, which lasted less than 30 minutes, the pastor said Jonah “is in the presence of the Lord,” and “we weep at what has happened and God weeps with us.”
Jacobs said while many wonder how and why this tragedy occurred, they ought not worry; instead, they should “walk with them (the baby's family)” and refrain from judging.
The pastor said though the death is painful, the time has come for everyone to “begin the healing process.”
Dressed in a black shirt, black pants, white vest, tie and a cross around his neck, Mendoza, in a soft voice, thanked everyone for their loved and support. He said having Jonah was truly a blessing, and his son was full of love, happiness and huge smiles.
Before the service began, a video entitled “A Journey of Remembrance” played. It featured countless pictures of Jonah, played over and over again for everyone to see. Jonah's small white casket, which stood in front of the pulpit, was flanked on either side by numerous pictures of him on large frames.
At the end of the service, the casket led the procession outside, followed by family and loved ones.
After church, a roughly five-minute graveside ceremony was held at Good Shepherd Memorial Gardens.
At the conclusion, Jonah's casket was lowered into the ground.
A small John Deere truck that hauled dirt to the spot where the casket was lowered stopped at the edge of the burial spot.
The little boy's father took a shovel and shoveled dirt into the hole. Other family and friends also took turns.
Jonah's mother, Melanie Reyes, was involved in a custody dispute with Jordan Mendoza.
The father of her unborn child, Marcelino Febo, told an investigator they had planned to go to an abortion clinic on Jan. 5 and that he was returning to his native Australia.
On the day she shot Jonah and herself, Reyes posted a message on her Facebook page alluding to problems. She wrote that she was not trusting people and was arguing with people, was dealing with the courts, and intended to end her son's life as well as her own.
Soon after Reyes created that post, authorities were alerted by relatives and friends. Deputies went to her northwest Ocala home to conduct a wellness check, but she shot her son and herself before they could make contact with her.
Reyes' body will be taken to New York. According to her family, many of her organs were donated to help others.
A PayPal account has been set up to assist Jordan Mendoza with expenses for the funeral and burial of his son. Call Sierra Hutton at 817-3020 or Amanda Lucas at 502-5109 for more information.
A fundraiser will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Sunday at AMF Galaxy West, 1818 SW 17th St., Ocala.
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