Family, Friends Gather for Marisol Espinosa's Funeral

Family and friends gathered Monday morning to remember a Dallas mother of three who went missing in December and whose remains were found eight days ago.

Marisol Espinosa was last seen on December 29 outside her home on Aurora Street in Pleasant Grove.

On March 6, a man found her remains in a wooded area near Dowdy Ferry Road.

Her funeral on Monday may be closure for family and friends who searched for her, but they say it is by no means the end.

The pews of St. Edward's Catholic Church were packed with friends and family. Many were wearing shirts that read "Justice for Mari".

"It's because of all of your love you have for my cousin, that you have for the family, that you have for her kids," said Wendy Lopez, her cousin.

Lopez eulogized her cousin during the service.

She thanked those who were with the family for the three months of searching. She said she didn't want to speak at the funeral, but knew that's what her cousin wanted. Lopez didn't speak long, but spoke about how she sees Marisol's face and qualities in her three young children.

"We have a long road ahead of us with these kids," she said. "And I hope to see y'all at every function because that's what Mari would want. She was the glue to our family. She brought us together. She brought all of us together."

In Lopez's remarks there was clearly pain, anger and, in some ways, hope.

"I didn't think I would have to avenge my cousin's death," she said. "But we did it. We will and it will happen. She's going to be very proud, of everybody for everything that you've done and everything that you keep doing."

While the funeral brings some closure, many in the crowd acknowledged there is still a long way to go.

"It's not over, this is just the first step in getting closure," said Aryana Khanzadeh.

Khanzadeh worked with Espinosa at the Toni & Guy's at NorthPark Center. She participated in the search for Espinosa and said this result is not what they wanted, but that they will keep fighting for her.

"I hope we catch who did this and I hope whoever it is has been looking over their shoulder every day since," Khanzadeh said.

But as emotions ran high and tears flowed, so too did the memories.

"She was very sweet," DaLinda Hunter, a co-worker, said. "Hardworking. Very friendly. Always made you feel like you were included, just a sweet spirit."

"I have a son her age," said Eva Ramirez, a family friend from Midland. "I remember having pictures of her and my son, and they were sitting on the floor, all the little chubby babies."

Dallas police say Espinosa's death is now a homicide investigation, after originally being a critical missing person case.

While no suspect has been named, The Dallas Morning News reports that family members believe her ex-boyfriend Faustino Valdez killed her and fled to Mexico.

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