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Pastor: Thousands of dollars have been raised

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Beason Methodist 092709
A few members of the media came to cover the morning church service at the Beason United Methodist Church Sunday morning September 27. One week after a brutal crime was committed against a local family, police are still investigating. (The Pantagraph/LORI ANN COOK-NEISLER) (September 27, 2009)

LINCOLN -- Thousands of dollars have been raised for the Gee Family Memorial Fund, says the pastor of the Beason Methodist Church.

"The money is still coming in and we don't have an exact total, but we do know that it's in the thousands," said Dayle Badman. "Some of the churches in Lincoln are also having special collections, but we have been thrilled with the response so far."

Badman said funds raised will help pay funeral expenses as well as medical expenses for the family's 3-year-old daughter Tabitha, who is recuperating from her injuries in a Peoria hospital. She is expected to recover from injuries suffered in the attack Sept. 21 that left five of her family members dead.

Christopher J. Harris, 30, was arrested last week and charged with five counts of murder and one count of attempted murder.

Donations can be sent to the First United Methodist Church of Lincoln, 302 Broadway, Lincoln, IL 62656.

The fund drive will continue as long as money continues to come in, Badman said.

"We have received donations from all over the country," she said. "People have been very generous, even those from far away who have no connection with the family. But they have heard about the suffering this family has endured and want to help."

Funeral services for Raymond "Rick" Gee, 46, Ruth Gee, 39, and three of their children, Justina Constant, 16, Dillen Constant, 14, and Austin Gee, 11, were held Monday at the Family Life Center church in Mount Pulaski.

"The community has been very helpful and that's one reason why we have been able to keep the costs as low as possible," said funeral home director Chuck Fricke. "We have never had to deal with a funeral this big, but a lot of people stepped up to help and that is something everyone appreciates."

A memorial service is scheduled for this evening at the Park Meadows Baptist Church, said Pastor S.M. Davis of the Park Meadows Baptist Church in Lincoln.

"Family members and church members will be allowed and encouraged to share positive testimonies about each of the family who lost their lives," Davis said. "In particular, the members of Park Meadows Baptist Church will have the opportunity to share testimonies about Justina Constant, who rode the bus to church the day before she died."

The memorial service begins at 6 p.m. and the public is encouraged to attend.

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