A day of mourning in Farmville, mother and daughter laid to rest

By Tara Morgan - bio | email

FARMVILLE, VA (NBC12) - Across from Longwood University where Debra Kelley taught criminology and sociology, mourners packed Farmville United Methodist Church for two ceremonies to say goodbye to Kelley and her daughter Emma.

It was a long and emotional day for relatives and friends.

Many students Kelley either taught or advised at Longwood also attended the first of two memorial services.

Amy Powers traveled from Harrisonburg to pay her respects.

"It's worthwhile to remember a life with such passion," she said.

Memories from Kelley's students were read aloud.

Relatives say Kelley's mother was moved by the size of the crowd and the kind words.

Powers recalled a challenging and engaging instructor.

"She was very interesting," she said. "She kept you on your toes, working hard."

"She was a really strong," said mourner Kristine Wright. "She always gave the women hope that in the police force we would be able to make it."

Wright says Kelley would often talk about her daughter Emma.

"She was really proud of her daughter," said Wright. "She was hoping she would do great in school and carry on with her life and go to college and now she doesn't have that chance."

Several hours later, younger mourners gathered to celebrate the 16-year-old murder victim's life.

"She was chill but exciting," said mourner Williema Hamilton. "She was a good person."

Another friend described Emma during her middle school years as shy but thoughtful.

Reverend Sylvia Meadows says Emma's parents had concerns for their daughter and wanted to protect her.

"Even as she challenged the system and rebelled and tried to find her own identity ultimately she is still a precious child of God," said Rev. Meadows.

Both Emma Niederbrock and Debra Kelley have been cremated.

So far, no new charges have been filed against suspect Richard Sam McCroskey.

He is only charged in pastor Mark Niederbrock's death.

Police say they haven't seen the final medical examiner's report.

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