GREAT BEND — Alicia DeBolt was remembered Friday as a kind, caring and loving person who saw kindness and beauty in everyone.
About 700 people gathered at the First Assembly of God Church in Great Bend for a memorial service for the 14-year-old.
Alicia also was remembered for her love of clothes and her tendency to speak her mind and operate on her own time.
Rev. Kyle Ermoian, who officiated, called her "willfully persistent."
"She was stubborn as a mule," he said, drawing laughter.
DeBolt, who would have been a freshman at Great Bend High School, was last seen leaving her house on Aug. 21. Her burned body was found Aug. 24 at an asphalt plant outside Great Bend.
A person of interest, 36-year-old Adam Longoria, has been arrested. He is being held in the Barton County jail, although he has not been charged with any crimes related to Alicia's death.
A relative who was not identified read a statement from the family Friday thanking the community and those beyond for their support and acts of kindness, which "have given us strength to face the unimaginable."
"The kindness from those who knew Alicia and those who didn't has been incredible," the statement said. "Our family is getting through this with the grace of God and the love of a close family and friends."
The statement also described Alicia as a person who never knew a stranger, listened when someone was feeling down, "gave comfort and hope, and always wore a smile."
It said she spoke her mind, "and it was an off-the-wall mind."
It also said she was generous with her time and possessions, and forgave when she was wronged.
Alicia had her own style and cared about how she looked and what she wore, the statement said. She put her own unique flair on everything she wore.
"She bedazzled, painted and sparkled till it was 'Aliciafied,' " the statement said.
"As an assignment, Alicia wrote about inventing a mirror that would show her what a piece of clothing would look like on her without actually trying it on."
Some of the shoes and sandals she wore were displayed in the church foyer.
Ermoian said Alicia spent her last day shopping for clothes in Wichita. She ate her last meal at her favorite restaurant, the Olive Garden.
Alicia loved and accepted her family as they were, he said. Although she had struggled when her mother remarried, she showed her support by walking her mother down the aisle at the wedding, he said.
Ermoian urged those in the church not to dwell on thoughts of vengeance over what happened to Alicia, but to focus on her life and the lessons to be learned from her death.
"It's important to the family that Alicia's life and death will serve as an example of what to do and what not to do," he said.
At least one person who attended the service took the message to heart.
Pam Engberg, who didn't know Alicia's family and had never even been to Kansas, drove from Minneapolis, Minn., to Great Bend after being moved by media accounts of the death. Engberg said she has a 14-year old niece.
"It was my greatest fear that something like this could happen to her," she said.