GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - Eight years after 13-year-old Amanda Lankey was murdered, her family is planning another burial service for her.
When Lankey's family originally buried her in 2004, they had only partial remains. Her mother Victoria Foster said that detectives kept Amanda's skull and hands as evidence.
"When Amanda was killed, she was brutally beaten and they had to put her skull back together, try to figure out how many times she was hit," said Foster.
About a week ago, she said, detectives told her they would release the rest of her remains.
"Now that things are moving forward, things are starting to happen, I think they're feeling more comfortable with releasing her now," said Foster.
Lankey's body was discovered in the Manistee National Forest in 2004. She had disappeared two weeks earlier while spending the night at the home of Cecil Wallis, Sr. He was later identified as a person of interest, but killed himself before the investigation was over.
Prosecutors have since charged Wallis's sister Candace Wallis-Baumgartner, a former White Cloud police officer and her son Marcus Wallis with perjury in the investigation.
Now, the family is planning to exhume Lankey's body for a proper burial. She is buried in the Detroit area.
"It's one more step toward closure. Amanda needs to be properly buried. She needs to be whole. That is very important to her brothers and sister, and of course the rest of the family," said Foster. "Now that I know that her body can be released to us, I don't just want her sitting somewhere. Now it's time for us to take action and do what we have to do. We want her so we can all be together there with her."
The funeral home handling the arrangements confirmed it is working with authorities and the family and said the service will cost about $4,000. The family says it can't afford that.
"We're a regular family. We work full-time. We pay our bills. We get behind and we catch up," said Foster. "$4,000 is a lot."
Foster said she believed that Newaygo County would help cover the cost of the reburial, since it was the sheriff's department that kept her remains for evidence.
"I would have assumed that it would be taken care of, but unfortunately this case hasn't been the norm," said Foster.
There is no date set for the service as family and friends are working on fundraisers to help pay for the arrangements. A fund has been set up at the Crandell Funeral Home in White Cloud.
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