Dozens gathered at the steps of St. Paul's Mount Olivet Baptist Church on Sunday to pray for unity alongside the families of Loyace Foreman III and Nitosha Flug-Presley, two of the four Minnesotans recently found dead in a Wisconsin cornfield.
The bodies of Foreman, 35, and Flug-Presley, 30, were discovered in an abandoned SUV on Sept. 12, as were those of two other victims: Matthew Pettus, 26, and his half-sister Jasmine C. Sturm, 30, who was Foreman's girlfriend.
"Our family has spent the last 25 years in this community, giving everything we knew how to give," said Jessica Foreman, Loyace's mother, fighting back tears. "And now we've given my baby."
St. Paul police have arrested one suspect, 56-year-old St. Paul resident Darren Lee McWright. Another suspect, Antoine Darnique Suggs, 38, turned himself in to Gilbert, Ariz., authorities on Friday.
"If we do not hold each other up, we will fall one by one," said Minnesota Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington, a longtime friend of the Foreman family. "We have to come together to stop the next [killing] from happening."
Several St. Paul police officers were in attendance Sunday, including Police Chief Todd Axtell.
Both the Foremans and the Presleys encouraged anyone with information that could help the investigation to come forward. "Dang it, if you see something, say something," Jessica Foreman pleaded.
"Justice, for us, needs to be served," said Damone Presley, who had held a vigil for his daughter, Nitosha, the previous day.
Though Jessica and Loyace Foreman now reside in Texas, they returned to honor their only son at Mount Olivet Baptist Church because it has long been a fixture of the community and their family. The two are both pastors and he has preached at the church before. He and the church's reverend, James Thomas, once worked together in the St. Paul Black Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance.
"I want my grandkids to know, you got family," Loyace said, speaking to his son's children. "Look around. There are uncles and grandpas and aunties — amen, hallelujah."
"And cousins in blue," he added, gesturing to the police in the crowd.
Dressed in black T-shirts that featured a photo of Loyace III, the Foreman family also shared fond memories of him. "When he had one dollar, he gave you 15 cents," one sister joked. "And if he really loved you, he'd give you a quarter."
At one point, both families were joined on the steps by K.G. Wilson, the grandfather of 6-year-old Aniya Allen, who was killed by a stray bullet earlier this summer. Wilson is a friend of the Presleys and met the Foremans for the first time Sunday. "We got each other," Wilson said, as he told the families that they will make it through the pain. "We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us."
Christina Saint Louis • 612-673-4668