Times Staff Report
Hundreds of people packed a Birmingham church to overflowing Sunday for the funeral of 3-year-old Kamille “Cupcake” McKinney who police say was killed after being kidnapped from a birthday party.
The funeral of Kamille was held at the New Beginning Christian Ministry in Birmingham. That 700-seat church is less than 10 miles from a public housing project where Kamille was abducted Oct. 12. A fellowship hall was used to seat a large overflow crowd amid a program marked by tears, somber prayer and joyous gospel music.
Purple and pink flowers and balloons adorned Kamille’s tiny casket at the “homegoing service.” Colorful cupcakes and an artistic rendering of little Kamille sat alongside the white casket.
The girl’s uncle, Steven Long, reminisced about the soft voice she used when she called for “Uncle Steve.” Addressing his sister — Kamille’s mother, April Thomas — and her father, Dominic McKinney, Long said he was only a phone call away if they ever needed to talk.
“Even though it may be sad here for us … not having her here and needing her here, God has gained an angel in his kingdom,” Long told the crowd, which responded with a chorus of amens before breaking into song.
In his eulogy, Pastor Sylvester L. Wilson said he had struggled to come up with a message to share with the congregation. His own granddaughter had just celebrated her third birthday, Wilson said.
Kamille was, Wilson said, “an angel sent from heaven.”
“God came back just to get his angel,” Wilson told the congregation, “because one little baby that lived to be 3 years old could bring this whole city, this whole country, this whole world together.”
Kamille was abducted October 12 from a birthday party at the Birmingham housing complex her family calls home. Her remains were found in a dumpster at a landfill Tuesday.
Patrick Stallworth, 39, and Derick Brown, 29, were arrested and charged with capital murder of a victim younger than 14.
They are being held at Jefferson County Jail without bond, online inmate records indicate.
Asked in court whether he had any questions, Stallworth told the judge, “I don’t understand why I was charged with murder of this child,” AL.com reported.
The judge told him a lawyer would explain the charges, the news outlet said.
There is no connection between Brown and Stallworth and Kamille’s family, Birmingham Police Chief Patrick Smith has said.
A citywide vigil was held outside Birmingham City Hall last week after the discovery of her body.
During a candlelight vigil for the little girl, Smith said Kamille was able to accomplish something many couldn’t do in a lifetime.
“A 3-year-old little girl has changed the landscape of the city of Birmingham,” the chief said. “She made us stop and check ourselves to see if we are doing everything we can to keep our children safe from harm; check to see if we are truly the village we promised to be; check to see if we live up to the expectations of tomorrow and watching our children today the way they need to.”
Kamille vanished while outside a birthday party in the Tom Brown Village housing community.
A report of a vehicle matching the description of the SUV allegedly used to abduct Kamille led police to Brown and Stallworth, who were taken into custody October 20, authorities said.
Before they were charged with murder, both were held on charges in unrelated cases, police said.
Police found child pornography on Stallworth’s phone and charged him with four counts of possession of child pornography and three counts of possession of child pornography with intent to distribute, police said.
Stallworth was initially released from custody after posting bond, set at $500,000, but was back in jail Friday evening on the murder charge, inmate records show.
Stallworth’s attorney, Emory Anthony, said last week he didn’t know anything about the case, including the circumstances, the evidence or the reasoning behind Stallworth’s arrest. CNN’s attempts to reach an attorney for Brown were unsuccessful.
Brown was held on a probation revocation for an unrelated kidnapping, Chief Smith said. Online inmate records indicate she’s also charged with multiple felony counts of failing to appear in court.
Associated Press and CNN’s Amir Vera and Hollie Silverman contributed to this report.