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Cape Breton Post - - NATIONAL -

BELLEVILLE, Ont. (CP) — A vi­brant, strong-willed woman, with a “pro­found zest and love of life” was re­mem­bered Satur­day as hun­dreds of peo­ple from this tight-knit com­mu­nity crowded in­side a fu­neral home to mourn the death of 27-year-old Jes­sica Lloyd.

Her death is at the cen­tre of a mur­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion that has re­sulted in charges against a se­nior Cana­dian Forces of­fi­cer, which has rocked the mil­i­tary.

Lines of cars snaked around the street, as friends and fam­ily filed into the John R. Bush Fu­neral Home for a pri­vate cer­e­mony.

The eu­logy was played through speak­ers to the dozens of peo­ple out­side who were hold­ing can­dles, wip­ing away tears, and clutch­ing signs, bear­ing the ti­tle, “RIP Jes­sica.”

The Belleville woman’s body was dis­cov­ered Mon­day in the com­mu­nity of Tweed — she was re­ported miss­ing last month.

Shortly af­ter her body was dis­cov­ered, the town was stunned as po­lice an­nounced first de­gree mur­der charges against Col. Rus­sell Wil­liams, con­sid­ered a ris­ing star in the Cana­dian mil­i­tary.

Car­rie Plews, 29, shuf­fled into the small chapel in­side the fu­neral home be­fore 1 p.m., qui­etly weep­ing, as she de­scribed her friend and the im­pact the young woman’s death has had on the fam­ily.

“She was just an all around beau­ti­ful per­son, just great to be around,” said Plews, who had spo­ken with Lloyd’s brother on Fri­day.

“I kind of broke down when I was talk­ing to Andy. He’s her big brother. He’s like a big teddy bear. It was re­ally hard,” she said, dab­bing her eyes with a crum­pled tis­sue.

Dur­ing the hour-long ser­vice, two of Lloyd’s cousins de­scribed the young woman’s wit, love of coun­try liv­ing and strong con­nec­tion to her brother.

“ Those green eyes could catch the at­ten­tion of any­one from across the room,” said her cousin, Sarah Lloyd, who along with her brother, John, gave the eu­logy.

Lloyd was born in Ottawa but moved to Belleville at eight and came to em­brace the small city, but yearned for the coun­try.

“She loved the beauty of an overnight frost in the coun­try­side,” the Rev. Cathy Paul said dur­ing the ser­vice.

Her cousins’ de­scribed the close con­nec­tion she had with her brother, Andy, who would walk a few steps be­hind her when she strolled to school as a child.

Lloyd said her cousin had a snappy sense of hu­mour, of­ten teas­ing her brother.

Shar­ing an anec­dote, Lloyd de­scribed how her cousin’s Ninja, a mo­tor­cy­cle, was a newer model by two years from her brother’s. It was a fact Jes­sica Lloyd loved to tease her brother about.

She loved all kinds of mu­sic from Jay-Z to Ge­orge Strait. “ You can’t cover Jess with one song,” her cousin, John Lloyd said with a soft chuckle. She loved hockey, es­pe­cially Tie Domi, and joked that she would name her child af­ter the for­mer hockey star.

“It was a com­fort­ing ser­vice, a cel­e­bra­tion of her life, and af­firm­ing” said Rev. Au­drey Whit­ney, as teams of peo­ple poured out of the build­ing, and the sound of bag pipes res­onated in the back­ground.

Pho­tos, flow­ers and col­lages filled the room, show­ing the pretty brunette tightly hug­ging her brother, arms flung around her friends.

Mem­bers of the mil­i­tary also at­tended the ser­vice. Lt. Col David Mur­phy, who has taken over for Wil­liams as act­ing com­man­der at the base was at the fu­neral.

Out­side the chapel, the com­mu­nity ral­lied to show sup­port.

“It’s such a small com­mu­nity and it has been such a shock. You don’t ex­pect it to hap­pen in such a small place,” said Karen Kehler, as she sobbed, vis­i­bly dis­turbed by the event that has rocked the city.

“ You just want to be able to do some­thing for the fam­ily,” she added.

Signs out­side lo­cal stores in Belleville read “ We love you Jes­sica,” and peo­ple stood silently along the street out­side the fu­neral home.

Wil­liams is sched­uled to next ap­pear in court via video link Feb. 18 to face the charges that are un­proven.

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