ZION, Ill. — Hundreds of mourners filed past the open casket of an 8-year-old girl who was stabbed to death in a park last week, shuffling by a picture of the beaming second-grader Sunday before her funeral.
Laura Hobbs wore a red dress as she lay in a white coffin alongside a Barbie doll and a white teddy bear.
The bodies of Hobbs and a friend, 9-year-old Krystal Tobias, were found May 9 in a heavily wooded area of a park near their homes. The next day, authorities charged Laura’s father, Jerry Hobbs, with first-degree murder, saying he confessed to beating and stabbing the children.
Prosecutors said Hobbs became angry when his daughter refused to leave the park and return home. He allegedly attacked Tobias when she came to the defense of her friend.
Laura Hobbs’ mother, Sheila Hollabaugh, told the crowd of about 200 family members, friends and neighbors that she knew her daughter was in heaven.
“I leave my little girl in God’s hands now,” she said, standing before the coffin and breaking into tears. “She feels no more pain and no more sorrow and will never again have a reason not to smile.”
Dozens of Hobbs’ classmates from Beulah Park Elementary School attended the service at a funeral home. Many of the children wiped away tears as they saw her body.
Hobbs’ great-uncle, Raymond Morley, said Hobbs deserves the death penalty if convicted.
“If they got their man, I don’t think he deserves anything less than execution for something this horrible,” Morley said. “He’s brought this whole community to its knees.”
A judge on Wednesday denied bond for Hobbs, who has an extensive criminal history dating back to 1990 in Texas, including prior arrests for assault and resisting arrest.
Hobbs, 34, was released from a Texas prison in April after serving time for an assault in 2001. He had been living with Laura’s mother, Sheila Hollabaugh, at her parents’ home in Zion, a town of about 22,000 along Lake Michigan north of Chicago.
A service for Tobias was held Saturday.
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