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For week ended December 12, 1999 Posted 18 Dec 1999

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LDS Family Mourns at Christmas (Jennifer's ornaments)

Summarized by Kent Larsen

LDS Family Mourns at Christmas (Jennifer's ornaments)
(Phoenix) AZ Republic 11Dec99 D2
By Karina Bland: The Arizona Republic

GILBERT, ARIZONA -- The family of Jennifer Daniel is celebrating Christmas without her. As reported in late October, Jennifer Daniels was shot and killed by Dan Pasek, whose child she was carrying, in a tragic murder-suicide. But her family is finding it hard to celebrate the holidays without her.

Jennifer's mother is hanging her collection of ornaments on the family's Christmas tree, one for each year of Jennifer's life.

"I really feel at peace because I know where she is," says Jennifer's mother. "It's not her hurting. It's just us missing being with her." To commemorate her death, friends have donated trees, including a lemon tree donated by the LDS ward Jennifer attended. Another friend donated a rose bush, and others set up a scholarship fund in her name at her high school, Gilbert High.

Her three-year-old brother is confused about what her death means exactly, asking, "Jenni doesn't need her keys when she's dead?" His mom explains that no, she no longer needs her car keys. Devon spent many hours with Jennifer while their mother ran errands. But sensing his mother's feelings, he sometimes asks, "Are you sad today, Mom?"

Another brother, Jared, is serving a mission in Kentucky. He carries copies of pages from his sister's scrapbook with him as a reminder. Jennifer's 17-year-old brother Bradley keeps her picture in his room and 15-year-old Stephanie and 12-year-old Keri wear her rings.

Jennifer's mother, Deanna, had already purchased the Christmas ornaments for each child before Jennifer was killed. Her ornament for this year was a doe with a fawn at her side, appropriate for Jennifer's pregnancy.

Her family feels that Jennifer had cared for and tried to support Pasek, leading to their relationship. But it wasn't the relationship that Jennifer wanted, because she had already promised to wait for a missionary. But Pasek was obsessed with her, and tried hard to get her to marry him.

When her boyfriend returned from his mission in August, Jennifer planned on giving the baby up for adoption, and got engaged to the returned missionary. Pasek tried to get her to let him have the child, but Jennifer refused, insisting that the child be kept from Pasek, who her family claims bullied and harassed Jennifer.

"All through her life, she was such a good kid," says her mother. "This is the one mistake she ever made, and she had to sacrifice everything for it."

Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 Kent Larsen · Privacy Information