Murdered teenager Chelsea King memorial captured national attention
Thousands turned out to celebrate the 17-year-old Chelsea King’s life, blue ribbons fluttered in the wind; thousands of sunflowers sprinkled throughout the audience and a sense of hope swirled around Poway High School’s football stadium.
Saying goodbye is never easy, but the King family did so with the help of family and thousands of community well-wishers all with a kind word about the vibrant and quirky teenager.
Chuck McCully, her uncle, was the first family member to speak about Chelsea at the memorial, “Wow, you’re a community like no other community I’ve ever known.”
When it comes to difficult times Poway tends to pull together and reach out to those in need. When the recent fires gripped San Diego and blazed through Poway, once again the community answered the call with grace and dignity.
Phrases from speakers included, “a Titian through and through,” “faith-tested,” and “with us in spirit” capture the essence that was Chelsea.
One of her High School friends, Anton Walker said, “the metamorphosis of High School is not easy, but Chelsea made it easier.” It was Walker who had lunch with Chelsea – one that would be her last meal.
Another close friend, Katie Chang, quipped that one of the things she loved most about Chelsea was her “feathers of quirkiness.”
“I want to say I’m OK, but I’m not OK, because the best thing in my life has been taken away from me, which was Chelsea,” her brother Tyler said. “Her spirit is so large it defeats death.”
According to one of Chelsea’s teachers, Curt Lewis, she was not afraid to die. A recent paper she wrote after studying Leo Tolstoy and showed she yearned for a noble life- one with real meaning. “I will not live in fear of my own mortality,” the paper read.
“Is it any wonder that the sun came out at just the right moment,” said memorial director Pastor Harry Kuehl of the Church of Rancho Bernardo. “I think Chelsea said, ‘Lord, this would be a good moment.'”
Noticeably shaken, Kelly King spoke to her daughter as though she was there. “I have to remember to breathe each morning…but I hear Chelsea telling me we have important things to do today, mom.”
Chelsea’s mother spoke about the sunrises that Chelsea knew would bring renewed hope and her love of knowledge and the written word. “Evil never conquers over good.”
Sadly, Kelly King spoke about the club they were forced to join, a club no parent wants to be a part of – parents of murdered children.
Taking this one step further was Chelsea’s father, Brent, who referred to his daughter’s killer “as evil, pure evil.”
Making sense of a senseless act is never easy, Brent King explained, but if it weren’t Chelsea that day it would have been another young girl.
Fixing sexual predators isn’t possible according to Brent King. He challenged those who disagree, “Let them live in your neighborhood next to your children. Not ours. This is about protecting our children from evil.”
The raw emotion appeared all over King’s face as he spoke about the litany of emotions and reactions to his daughter’s death he could have evoked. “Because of you,” he said, looking at the attendees, “I chose hope.”
In a final plea to protect our nation’s children, King said to the audience, “Give your time, give your voice, and give your energy to help Chelsea’s light stay bright. I love you angel.”
Then the celebration of life ended with the release of white doves.
Amber Dubois’s parents were also in attendance and shared in the King family pain. There was a moment of silence for Amber and words of condolences from the Poway community. Amber’s memorial will be held in exactly two weeks and the King family is expected to attend the service at Escondido High School.