During a funeral for a slain San Diego police detective and her daughter on Thursday, many talked about Donna and Briana Williams—their colorful personalities, generosity and love—but one young woman took a minute to speak directly to "Bree."
"We were supposed to grow old together," a tearful Alyssa Abrenica said in her message to 18-year-old Briana.
Bree had sent her a letter saying she didn't know what she would do without Abrenica, the teen said.
But now, Abrenica said to Bree, "I have to live without you."
Briana, a recent Mount Carmel High School graduate, and her mother, longtime San Diego police detective Donna Williams, 52, in the early hours of Monday, July 18. The detective's 24-year-old son, Brian Williams, has been charged with in connection with the deaths. Brian Williams' attorney has said the 24-year-old had been diagnosed with schizophrenia but was not taking medication at the time of the killings.
On Thursday, family members, mourners and rows of police officers attended a joint funeral for the women at Marantha Chapel on Coastwood Road, many still coming to grips with the shocking deaths.
"The thing that comforts me is to know that she's with Jesus right now," said Janine Fearon, the detective's cousin.
Fearon shared several stories of growing up in the Los Angeles area with Donna Williams, who was born in Santa Monica and graduated from Santa Monica High School in the late 1970s. Williams joined the San Diego Police Department in 1980, became a detective in 1987 and joined the Child Abuse Unit in 1989 where she had been since.
As young girls, Fearon and Donna Williams were known for laughing all of the time, sharing inside jokes and amusing themselves by studying freeway signs, the cousin said. Donna mistakenly read the "Bundy Dr." freeway sign as "Bundy Doctor," Fearon said, immediately creating a new joke for the two to share.
That love of laughter was passed onto Briana, friends and family said, who was known for her "sunny, crazy spirit," in the words of the teen's older sister, DeKenya L. Williams.
"These were my girls, my best friends," DeKenya Williams said of her mother and sister.
Briana followed in the footsteps of her older sister, taking up—and, perhaps, taking over—the game of softball at Mount Carmel High School and in traveling leagues.
Longtime coach Don Portugal spoke at the funeral, describing Bree's pitching skills as "God-given ability" that intimidated other teams. She had an unmistakable presence on the field, Portugal said, and her mother had the same in the stands as she cheered the team on.
"She was the parent we all wanted to be," Portugal said of Donna Williams. "I lost a special friend in Donna and like a daughter in Bree."
Briana Williams was also at cheerleader at Mount Carmel and had been planning to attend a San Francisco design school in the fall on a full scholarship. It was a natural choice for the stylish teen who was known for her eyelashes, hairstyles and high school dress code-defying outfits, loved ones said.
"She was only 18, but she was somethin'," Briana's older sister, Tiffany Williams-Lincoln, said. "She made a dress out of a pillowcase and made it look good."
Donna Williams leaves behind her children DeKenya Williams, Howard Williams III, and Tiffany Williams-Lincoln; mother Gladys Brown; brothers Damon Middleton and Dennis Middleton; and grandson Maxwell Lincoln. Her husband, Sgt. Howard Williams, died in 2007.
San Diego police Chaplain Dale Lowrimore led Thursday's service. Other speakers included: San Diego police Assistant Chief David Ramirez; Capt. Jim Collins; Det. Cindy Brady; Det. Pamela Lawson; and Monique Lamphiere-Tamayoshi, an English teacher at Mount Carmel High School. Briana Williams' friend Torry Koetter and the El Camino Chamber Choir each sang.