A community gathers to say goodbye

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NORTHWOOD, IA – It’s been nearly a week since the murder of a north Iowa woman.

On Monday, 30-year-old Justina Smith was stabbed at Swensrud Park in Northwood.

Smith called for help herself and authorities quickly came to her aid but she later died of her injuries.

Now, her family and friends are gathering to say goodbye and to honor her life.

Justina Smith was laid to rest this afternoon and following her funeral people from the community gathered in the very park where she was stabbed on Monday to say goodbye to their friend.

Pastor Judy Converse performed Tina Smith’s funeral service.

She also spoke at the vigil about the importance of continuing to view the park as a place of joy… and not one of violence.

“We still can enjoy this beautiful place and the gift that it is to our community, while we attempt to make sense of this terrible thing that happened here.”

She says it’s an important step in the healing process.

“I’m grateful for this community for the way in which they keep tabs on each other, you see it in the friendships, in the hugs,” explains Pastor Converse

The vigil wrapped up with a tribute to Tina as she’s known by her friends.

Children released orange and white balloons into the sky, Pastor Converse told them to think about what they would want to say to Tina… then release the balloons to her.

“Life does not end, there is goodness that follows that God is never letting go of us and even now is holding Tina gently and safely in his arms.”

Ever since Tuesday, people have been placing flowers at the base of a tree in Swensrud Park many people were gathering around that tree today, paying their respects.

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