About 400 attend Lentzes' funeral
Their black silhouettes stark against the white snow, three hearses stood sentinel Saturday outside First Lutheran Church, silent testament to the tragedy that brought them there.
Inside, some 400 mourners gathered to say goodbye to Danyetta Lentz and her teenage children, Nicole and Scott, all victims of violence.
"Evil is real," the Rev. Jim Melvin told the mourners, "and now evil has surfaced in our midst and touched our lives and snatched people we love right out from under our noses."
Nevertheless, Melvin noted, people throughout the Janesville community-from staff and classmates at Parker High School, where Nicole and Scott were students, to the law officers who investigated their deaths-rallied to support the family that lost so much.
"Even in the presence of evil, goodness and love prevail," Melvin said.
The Lentzes touched many lives.
More than 50 young people volunteered to sing as the funeral choir.
"Choir was Nicole's favorite class, and she loved to sing," Parker counselor Mary Ross said in her eulogy. "Music meant the world to Nicole and took her to a place away from the pain that unfortunately was part of her life...
"Nicole was the type of person that always made people laugh and possessed a great sense of humor," Ross said. "Her smile warmed their hearts, and her kindness made them feel loved.
"She was a sweet person that loved to help others. ...Her boundless energy and charismatic personality lit up the room."
Ross remembered Scott as kind, helpful and humorous.
"The twinkle in his eyes and his raspy little voice were always quick with a funny comment," she said. "His smile was contagious, and it covered his entire face. ..."He cared deeply about others and was never mean-spirited if people were not respectful to him. ...He was a quiet, humble and unassuming young man that truly embraced life.
"Scott may have only been in this world a short time, but his impact was significant.
"Nicole and Scott were made of the same cloth," Ross said. "They may not have had material or monetary wealth, but they were wealthy in the aspects of life that truly matter.
"They were kind even when confronted with hardship. They made life easier for others even if they were sad. They showed resilience and strength in times of despair. They loved others even though sometimes that love was not given back to them, and they embraced life with passion that was displayed through their incredible smiles."
Before the service, the hushed murmur of greetings, condolences and words of support washed over the vestibule. Down one hall, friends and relatives dabbed tears from red eyes as they watched a slide show of Danyetta, Nicole and Scott in happy times, enjoying life and each other.
Mourners lingered over the flower-blanketed caskets to pay their respects and say their farewells.
But Ross brought a ripple of chuckles to the crowd when she recalled that Nicole "was absolutely boy crazy" and how much Scott loved to wear cowboy boots.
The mourners also chuckled and smiled as Donna Wold, director of Community Kids Learning Center, remembered her co-worker Danyetta.
"Any time Dani was around, you could not help but smile or laugh," Wold said. "I personally enjoyed teasing her because she would give you the biggest smile and go, 'Oh, you!'"
Ms. Dani, as she was called at the daycare center, was a kid at heart who would dance with the children during music time and get down and messy on the floor during art activities, Wold said.
"She would get so excited when it snowed, you couldn't tell who wanted to go outside more, the children or Dani," Wold recalled. "She would bundle all of her children up, and outdoors they would go. They ran, jumped and would lie in the soft snow.
"It was always fun to see the children's faces when Ms. Dani got up from her snow angel and they saw how much bigger her angel was than theirs."
Lillian Lucht, Danyetta's sister-in-law, summed up the feelings of many in the church as she recited a poem written in memory of Danyetta, Nicole and Scott:
"At least we know they got their angel wings."