KANSAS CITY, Kan. — One week after Olivia Jansen was found dead in a wooded area off 34th and Steele Road, the child was laid to rest, surrounded by hundreds of people who will never forget her.
Olivia’s father, Howard Jansen III and his girlfriend, Jacqulyn Kirkpatrick, have been charged with her murder, but Friday was not about them, it was all about Olivia.
“Jesus we come to you with broken hearts,” said the pastor leading the funeral.
He was speaking to hundreds of people who gathered at The Maple Hill Funeral Home and Cemetery to say goodbye to the 3-year-old girl whose life was stolen almost before it began.
“She was important and what happened was wrong,” the pastor continued.
The crowd gathered around her little white casket to write messages of sorrow and love on top. Hugs and tears, people wore yellow, which was Olivia’s favorite color. There were people in attendance know the family, but many did not.
“I’ve got grandchildren that age and how can anybody murder an innocent little sweet angel like her?” asked Stephen Wise, who was among the mourners.
In his experience, the more support for the family leads to healing.
“I lost my niece to a murder and I know what they’re going through,” Wise said.
Jessica H. was another person who didn’t know the family, but was there to support them. Olivia’s death has impacted the entire community.
“Justice for Olivia, to keep her name alive,” was the reason she gave for attending the funeral. “I’m a mom living in the community. It’s horrible, it’s tragic and it’s saddening what our world has come to.”
The pastor concluded with this message: “Surely goodness and mercy will follow us all of the days of our life until we dwell in the house of the Lord forever, which we believe Olivia is doing right now in this moment.”
Olivia’s mother, who is in prison in Topeka for an unrelated crime, was able to attend her daughter’s funeral.