So many people came to the funeral for 6-year-old Donmiguel Wilson Jr. that they spilled over from the main sanctuary. Some stood or sat in the balcony and choir area. As the mourners filed past his small white coffin, they shook their heads and wiped away tears.
About 500 friends and relatives gathered at First Rock Baptist Church in Southeast Washington to pay a final tribute to the young homicide victim. They remembered Donmiguel as a friendly, outgoing child who loved playing video games, riding his bike and spending time with his great-grandfather.
The boy's mother was not in the pews. Julia Barber, who reported hearing voices, remains hospitalized for psychiatric evaluation, according to court documents, after telling authorities that she killed Donmiguel. His body was found July 18, facedown and bound, in the bathtub of their apartment on Wheeler Road SE. No charges have been filed.
Those in the church took in the loss as words of comfort rang out from ministers at the pulpit.
"Though short it may be, thank you for the time you allowed young brother D.J. to be with us," said the Rev. Anthony L. Minter, the church's pastor.
Even more than the ministers' messages, it was the music -- soaring gospel hymns about faith and endurance -- that moved many to leap from the pews and wave their hands.
"There is no pain that Jesus can't feel . . . no hurt that He can't heal," the choir sang. "Hold your head up high, don't you cry."
D.C. Council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) sat near the front of the church and hugged Donmiguel's father during the service. Virginia Williams, mother of Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D), also attended. The mayor sent a statement of condolence that described Donmiguel as a little boy whose light shone brightly and whose life touched everyone.
Family members have said that Barber, who had been treated years ago for psychiatric problems, was acting strangely in the days before Donmiguel's death. They said she complained about voices and talking to the devil. According to court filings, Barber, 27, expressed thoughts about suicide in interviews with authorities after the slaying, saying God was calling her home.
Yesterday, as friends and relatives gathered to say goodbye to Donmiguel, there was a call to support the mother.
"Some of us have already started shaking our fists at Julia," said the Rev. Harry Adams. "You need to pray for her."
Another minister, the Rev. Lazarus Thicklen, said that such a tragedy should lead the community to look inward. "Maybe we should be asking ourselves, 'Where are we, and do we care?' " he said. "There is no magic potion coming down from heaven to cure our communities."
Thicklen said he prayed "that young D.J.'s life does not go in vain. My prayer is that it will trip the hearts of the people in this city, in our community and individually, to care with a deeper concern about the children of the District."
After the service, six pallbearers carried Donmiguel's coffin down the steps of the church. Mourners lined the way, among them Donmiguel's young cousins.
"I remember we used to play video games. . . . I last saw him on Father's Day," said Robert Dillard, 12. "When he left, I felt like a part of me went with him."
Another cousin, Tatyana Barber, 7, remembered a recent trip with Donmiguel to a Six Flags amusement park and how much she enjoyed hanging out with him.
"I had a lot of fun times with D.J., but now he's gone and I miss him," Tatyana said. "He's the best cousin I ever had."
Other relatives struggled to make sense of the horrible events.
"It's just hard for me right now," said Cherlethia Barber, 31, Julia Barber's sister-in-law. "He was just a little boy. We all will miss him."
Donmiguel's father, Donmiguel Wilson Sr., took comfort in God. "He's in a better place now. I love him, I miss him, but God is good," he said as he prepared to leave the church to bury his son. "I'm still numb. I'm just glad he's resting in peace."