Funeral held for Janiya Thomas

-  Family and friends said their final good-byes to Janiya Thomas on Saturday. The 11-year-old Bradenton girl's body was discovered in a freezer last month.

"It's sadness, it's confusion, everybody is still kind of searching [for answers]," said Thomas' cousin, Wayne Washington.

The funeral at Saint Paul Missionary Baptist Church, 525 Martin Luther King Avenue, was held to honor both Thomas and her grandmother, Delores Williams, who died in early November due to a medical issue, according to relatives.

Only one casket for Williams sat inside the church. A picture of Thomas was placed next to the casket.

Medical examiners have not released the child's body since it was found by relatives on October 18. They are still trying to determine her cause of death.

"The family is hurt. The family lost their mother, along with their niece and also their sister is involved too. You can't stop loving your family when things happen," said Pastor Edward Barthell, who has ministered relatives.

Kieshanna Thomas, Janiya's mother, remains behind bars in the Manatee County Jail facing charges for allegedly putting her daughter's body in a freezer. Thomas has not told investigators how her daughter died.

"Her memory will live on. I will make sure it lives on, the community will," said Washington.

Family members said since Janiya's death, the community has come together to host several meetings called 'Straight Talk,' allowing Bradenton residents to have open discussions about child abuse and the importance of involving the entire community in parenting a child.

Florida lawmakers are considering changing rules on home schooling students, requiring more in person check-ups on the child, after reports that Keishanna Thomas allegedly told school officials she was home schooling Janiya due to the child's ongoing medical concerns.

"Hopefully this can bring not only closure, but solutions, and bring us all together as a community and a family, so this won't happen again for any other child," said Washington.

Thomas' four siblings were removed from their Bradenton home and are currently in the care of a relative.

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