Family, Friends Remember Olten One Year Later
JEFFERSON CITY - A community torn apart by a grisly murder last year came together Thursday night to honor Elizabeth Olten. It's a story that captivated the nation exactly one year ago when 9-year-old Olten went missing in St. Martins. Thursday night, more than 50 people filled the pews of Concord Baptist Church not to remember her death, but to remember her life. They say time heals all wounds, but for the family and friends of Olten her death feels like yesterday.
"It's very overwhelming," family friend Pam Cafourek said "It's very hard, everyday is hard. Everyday you get up and she's not with us. We miss her."
Concord Baptist Church senior pastor Monte Shinkle agreed.
"It's been a day by day thing, and a very difficult thing, but I am very thankful that a lot of people have rallied around the family and continue to stand beside them," Shinkle said.Sixteen-year-old Alyssa Bustamante is accused of killing Olten one year ago. She has pleaded not guilty. The memorial service was a way for family members, friends, and community members to remember Olten.
"Elizabeth was a very sweet child, she was a very kind loving person, she had a smile that could melt your heart," Cafourek said. "She was your normal child. She laughed, she had hopes, she had dreams. She had her whole world ahead of her until it was taken from her."The Cafourek family clings to the memories to keep them going.
"Two or three years ago we all went to McDonald's and Delaynee and her brother Anthony switched so Elizabeth was my sister," Hallee Cafourek said. "She was my sister for the day."
Eight-year-old Audrey Cafourek remembered the time she went fishing with Olten.
"She caught a fish. She would stand in this spot, it was like her special spot because she caught like three fish that day," said Audrey Cafourek.
Concord Baptist Church Senior Pastor Monte Shinkle said before the ceremony it would be an emotional time for the family.
"We just want to remember her for the great little girl that she was and the life that she lived so we might be able to comfort this family as they continue to walk through this," Shinkle said.
Shinkle said the Olten family originally intended for the ceremony to be a private one for family and friends. However, it changed its mind after hearing community interest.
During the vigil, music flowed through the pews and sniffles filled the air. Olten's mother gave a tearful eulogy.
"Even though we're apart for now we know you will be with us forever," her mother said.
The vigil led by Shinkle included a candle lighting, prayer and later a ballon release at the cemetary Olten is buried.
"It's very important to us that everybody remembers her, that she's the victim in this and we do not want her forgotten," Pam Cafourek said. "That's what matters to us."