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TREVEN JACOB CUNNINGHAM
GARLAND, Treven Jacob Cunningham, 1, received his wings Dec. 3, 1999. He was born Feb. 16, 1998 in Dover-Foxcroft, son of Cassie Cunningham.
He is survived by his mother of Garland; maternal grandmother and step father, Deborah Cunningham and Arthur Jette of Garland; paternal grandfather Brent Cunningham Sr. and Jodie Roberts of Cambridge; great maternal grandparents Dale and Lorraine Curtis of Dexter; many aunts, uncles and cousins.
Private services will be in the care of the Crosby & Neal Funeral Home, Dexter.
Public Memorial Services will be held at 2 PM Sunday Dec. 12 at the Dexter Regional High School.
In lieu of flowers donations may be sent to the Treven and Mindy Angel Fund,
c/o Dexter Regional Federal Credit Union, 73 Main St., Dexter, ME 04930.
Emotions fill Dexter memorial
By Mike Laberge, Of the NEWS Staff
DEXTER — The gym filled with mourners lay silent, save for the sobs and the sniffles. Melanie Bragg paused to compose herself at the lectern adorned with greenery and yellow bows. Then she tearfully recalled her younger sister, the ‘‘special little boy’’ the young woman had loved like her own, and the violence that had taken them away nine days earlier.
‘‘Since that day, there’s been a lot of would’ve, could’ve, should’ve,’’ she said. ‘‘A lot of us feel guilt and blame. But there is only one person to blame, and that is the person who made the decision to take our beautiful babies away from us,’’ she said. ‘‘Hopefully, justice will be served soon.’’
The need for justice weighed heavily upon the 600 people who packed the gym at Dexter Regional High School on Sunday for a memorial service for Mindy Elizabeth Angel Gould, 20, and Treven Jacob Cunningham, the 21-month-old son of Gould’s best friend.
Both were found shot to death Dec. 3, in the Center Street home Gould and Bragg shared. Gould had been baby-sitting the little boy.
Maine State Police investigators say they believe the killer knew the home and the victims. Every day, they say, they are making progress. They remain optimistic they will have enough evidence to arrest someone soon.
In the meantime, many in the community have called for people to pull together in healing. ‘‘This tragedy which has happened here in our small community has angered us all. Most of us were stunned,’’ the Rev. Maurice Neal of Dexter, a retired Baptist minister, told the mourners to open Sunday’s service. ‘‘We are accustomed to letting our children play and romp wherever they wish. Our houses go unlocked, keys left in our cars,’’ he said. ‘‘Undoubtedly, some of these customs will change.’’Neal led the mourners in reciting The Lord’s Prayer and beseeched them to pray for strength. He then recalled the nonviolent protests of Martin Luther King Jr. and Mohandas Gandhi, both of whom realized that freedom lay in forgiveness.
‘‘Why am I telling you this? Because it is the only way to get healing for your troubled soul,’’ Neal told the silent audience.‘‘Hate, rage and acts of violence can tear the body and soul apart,’’ he said. ‘‘You are the only one who suffers; the one to whom the anger is directed cares less. Only God can heal a broken and contrite heart. Let him help you.’’
The service began a half-hour late to accommodate the number of mourners attending. Fifteen minutes before the scheduled 2 p.m. start, people wanting to sign the guest book still formed a line that snaked around a corner and into the nearby cafeteria. On a table at the front of the lobby lay an arrangement of greenery, with a single yellow candle in the center and a tiny white, winged stuffed bear at the front. Gould loved hunter green, and Treven always wore yellow. Packets of tissues filled a basket beside the arrangement. At the back of the gym, collages of more than 100 photographs of the victims adorned two tables and a pair of easels. Up front, beneath more than 30 red and blue banners proclaiming Dexter’s prowess in athletics, the families had placed memorials. Bouquets of carnations and daisies surrounded more pictures of Gould as a girl and a teen-ager. Beside the collage rested a single portrait of Treven, smiling in a yellow sweat shirt. A toy pickup truck with a white football in the bed — the boy’s favorite toys — sat in front of the picture. Family members crowded the first three rows of chairs on the gym floor. They included Treven’s mother, 19-year-old Cassie Cunningham, and members of the extended families of both victims. To the side, more than two dozen Dexter firefighters in blue-and-white uniforms lined the front row of one set of bleachers. Treven’s uncle, Brent ‘‘Gus’’ Cunningham, had joined the Fire Department six months ago. Throughout the hour-long service, friends and relatives of the victims played special songs, read poems and gave emotional tributes. ‘‘I once knew an angel who could not stay. I once knew an angel who had to go away,’’ read one of the poems. ‘‘I once knew an angel who loved to smile. I once knew an angel who stayed a short while,’’ it continued. ‘‘I once knew an angel I will never forget.’’ During the tributes, men stared into their laps and pressed tears from their eyes. Women wept and clutched tissues. Children, some not much older than Treven, sat in their parents’ laps and smiled, too young to understand the violence that had brought them together. At one point, one of Treven’s uncles, Brent Cunningham, tearfully read a poem. Leaving the lectern, he looked to the ceiling and said, ‘‘I love you, little man.’’ Arthur Jette, Treven’s stepgrandfather, later stood and told the mourners what the community had lost. First, he recalled Gould, a young woman who had just begun to get her life on track. ‘She loved country music, her family, her best friend, Cassie, and children,’’ Jette recalled, leaning on the lectern. ‘‘She loved everything in life without reservation.’’ Then he remembered Treven, a ‘‘happy, healthy’’ little boy just beginning to discover life. ‘‘He was easy to love,’’ Jette recalled, chuckling slightly. ‘‘No matter who he was with, he always had to be with his Mama,’’ he said. ‘‘Now we must live ... to keep his memory alive, and that of Mindy.’’
Just before the service ended, Bragg, Gould’s sister, offered sobering advice. Gould recently had returned to Dexter from southern Maine after ending a troubled relationship. Three days before she died, she had obtained a yearlong restraining order against her ex-boyfriend, Jeff Cookson, 36, of New Gloucester. State police briefly detained him the day of the slayings, but let him go on the advice of the Attorney General’s Office. His attorney, Dale Thistle, has said his client has denied involvement in the slayings. State police have declined to say if they consider Cookson a suspect.
‘‘The one thing I would like to get across — if only to one person — is don’t ever take any form of abuse,’’ Bragg said.
‘‘Get out, get away, go with your family, friends or to a domestic violence project,’’ she said.
‘‘Love does not hurt, and if you’re in a relationship that does hurt, end it.’’