Daniel Hulshizer  /  AP
A couple attending the memorial service for Paul Johnson Jr. hold hands outside Greentree Church in Egg Harbor Township, N.J., on Saturday. Pastor Kyle Huber, center left, walks away after reading a statement from the family.
updated 6/26/2004 4:14:29 PM ET 2004-06-26T20:14:29

Family and friends of an engineer slain by kidnappers in Saudi Arabia gathered Saturday to mourn an “evil action” that a minister said united a nation “in grief and in prayer.”

“We are here to support a family that has been placed under a terrible burden,” the Rev. Kyle Huber said during the hour-long ceremony for Paul M. Johnson Jr.

Johnson, 49, an engineer for Lockheed Martin who worked on Apache helicopters, was abducted June 12 by a group calling itself al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.

His body has not been found since photographs of his beheaded body were made public on a Web site on June 18.

“Today your love is hurting,” Huber said. “Deep loss, anger, an evil action that cannot be understood all weigh heavily upon your heart.”

Johnson, who had lived in Saudi Arabia for more than a decade, grew up in Eagleswood Township and family members still live nearby.

“We cannot bear your grief for you, but we share it with you,” Huber said. “A nation is bowed in grief and in prayer.”

Johnson’s sister, Donna Mayeux, of Little Egg Harbor Township, attends Greentree Church, where the service was held.

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