Yohana Garcia was loved by many — now struggling for answers

05/12/2012 7:40 PM |

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Zully Garcia Mancilla (center) is comforted by her husband Darwin Jordan (right) and daughter Melanie Jordan, 5, of Riverhead after Saturday's funeral.

Less than a week after Mirian Yohana Garcia Mancilla’s body was found in a wooded area behind the DMV in Riverhead, family and friends — many from her homeland of Guatemala — bid a sad goodbye to the 29-year-old everyone remembered as loving and caring.

In a eulogy in Spanish that brought many in the crowd of about 200 to tears, Ms. Garcia’s sister Zully remembered her sibling for her selfless, caring ways.

It was just two months ago that Zully Garcia Mancilla lost her infant son. She told the crowd of Yohana — that’s what family and friends called her — and how she went into a side room during the baby’s struggle for life. Alone in the room, Yohana Garcia prayed to God to take her and spare the child.

Just two months later, both are gone, leaving a family and friends wondering why.

“She was a wonderful person and a lot of people loved her,” Zully said.

Meanwhile, her killer remains still free, as Suffolk police have reported no arrests in the case.

“I don’t know how someone could do something like this and bring such pain on the family,” friend Carlos Enrique of Philadelphia said prior to the hour-long services at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Riverhead.

Many who attended were church members who knew Yohana from her participation in various church activities.

Before the services, relatives asked Fred McLaughlin of McLaughlin Heppner Funeral Home in Riverhead to allow them to lift the coffin off the wheeled platform and carry it into the church. They set it gently on a platform in a room near the chapel that was festooned with floral tributes.

Ms. Garcia’s mother stood by her daughter’s open coffin, wailing at her loss as family tried to comfort her.

Somber organ music played as mourners filed into the chapel, but it was the sounds of children’s voices that brought a poignant note to the service. Just as they were too young to understand the solemnity of the funeral, so their parents were unable to bring any depth of understanding to Ms. Garcia’s death.

Friends remembered her love of music and said she worked as a DJ both here and in Guatemala. They recalled her passion for sports, especially soccer. She was a goalie for a women’s soccer team in Cutchogue.

Church sister Suzanne Jolliver of Peconic described Ms. Garcia as “very bubbly and always smiling.”

“She was a sweetheart,” she said, adding that Ms. Garcia was very devoted to her nieces and nephews back in Guatemala.

Sergio Sunun described his friend as “a really sweet person, the nicest girl.”

Church elder Caveza de Vaca told mourners they would gain strength in drawing together as a family, and said solace would come to them in knowing that Ms. Garcia is “at peace in heaven in the mansion God has prepared for her.”

Branch director Lee Kruger called the day a “sad and somber occasion,” but said that God had promised they would all someday live together forever.

“We are all his brothers and sisters and we will be together again, Mr. Kruger said.

“Death comes to everybody … We don’t know why it happens the way it happens,” he continued. “But we return to God, to the spirit world and there we will await the resurrection.”

Ms. Garcia’s body will flown home to Guatemala on Wednesday for burial.

jlane@timesreview.com