SANFORD, N.C. — Friends and family of Marnita Bynum still seek answers about her death. Sunday, Bynum was laid to rest during a service that brought several communities together.
More than 1,500 people turned out for the funeral service. Many said Sunday was especially tough because a week after her death investigators have not made an arrest.
A long line of friends and family filed into the Sanford Civic Center to say a tearful good bye to Bynum. They also came to support her husband, Melvin, and the three sons she left behind.
"Mrs. Bynum was the sweetest woman anybody could ever meet," said Curtis Harris, a long time family friend who used to minister with the Bynums. "She was a great woman. She was a motivator."
Said Lancia Robinson: "It was a tragic loss."
As a substitute teacher, Bynum taught Robinson's daughter, Megan.
"If you were going through or had a bad day, if Ms. Bynum came in your presence, your day just changed because she just brought joy to people's lives," Robinson said.
That is why many who knew her cannot understand why this happened. Bynum was found dead in the trunk of her car along a rural road in Richmond County Monday.
Investigators said someone strangled her.
Bynum's husband is pastor of Cry Out Loud Ministry in Sanford. He told the congregation last Sunday that she missed services last because she was home with a toothache. Authorities said Marnita already was dead that day.
Investigators interviewed Melvin Bynum and searched the couple's home. But they are not calling Melvin a suspect.
"They always say the husband is the first suspect," Harris said. "But I don't believe, God knows I don't believe, he did it. He loved his wife, and he loved his kids."
Investigators still are not saying much about this case. They continue to say they expect to make an arrest soon.