Pallbearers leave with the casket of Emily Stauffer at the end of her funeral in Edson, Alta., on Friday. ((Ian Jackson/Canadian Press))

While police hunt Emily Stauffer's killer, her parents remembered her as a strongly religious person Friday at a funeral attended by hundreds of people in Edson, Alta.

The 14-year-old was killed last Saturday afternoon while she was walking along a wooded path that borders a residential area in the northwest area of the town.

Hundreds of people packed into the gymnasium of the Yellowhead Koinonia Christian School to attend the service.


Anna Stauffer carries a teddy bear as she enters her sister's funeral in Edson, Alta., on Friday. Beside Anna is her mother, Juanita, and following behind are her sister, Petra and father, Terry. ((Larry Wong/Canadian Press))

Stauffer's coffin, draped in white and pink flowers, sat at the front of the school gymnasium where the service was held. A full-size framed photo of the blond teenager sat nearby.

"If it was not for the prayers of God's people and for the arms of God holding us up, we would be puddles on the floor. God gives strength to the weak, and we are weak," said Emily's mother, Juanita Stauffer.

Stauffer spoke about her daughter's piano and violin lessons, as well as her love of photography and animals.

"I heard about another father this week, who said he gave the eulogy for a child, and he said, 'You know it wasn't hard. I could talk about my child forever.' And when I heard that, I thought, that is so true. I could talk about Emily for a long time, and I probably will," she said.

Emily's father, Terry Stauffer, a pastor at the local Baptist church, talked about his daughter's deep faith in God and how other family members' faith has sustained them through the past week. 

"Emily loved Jesus. But now her faith has turned to sight," he said. "The dream is over. The endless day has begun."


Emily Stauffer, 14, was killed on Saturday. ((Courtesy Stauffer family))

"When Emily's death was confirmed on Saturday night, I was shocked and bewildered. And when I got on my knees, all I could pray was, 'Oh Lord, help, help, help,'" he said.

"But right into that, one of my first thoughts was, 'If this gospel I've been preaching is not true today, it was never true at all.'"

Stauffer also shared his memories of his daughter.

"I loved to tease Emily, and she gave back pretty well, too," he said. "I have a habit of singing around the house, ask my kids about that, and Emily was always quick to say, 'Dad, you're off key,' or 'You've got the wrong rhythm.' But usually with a smile on her face unless it was really bad."

People started to show up for the 11 a.m. service at 9:30 Friday morning.

Chairs were set up to accommodate 700 people in the gymnasium, and they were all filled.