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Tears fall, but spirits rise during service for slain Fort Mill mom

If tears could bring a person back to this earth, Jackie Lashon Craine would be here now, with the three children and the family she loved so much.

As rain fell outside at Mount Zion AME Zion Church in Lancaster on Wednesday afternoon, hundreds of Craine's family, friends and acquaintances filed into the house of worship to remember the woman with a big smile and a heart of gold.

They even wore pins featuring Jackie's smiling face.

The 34-year-old Fort Mill mother's children - Jakel, 16, Aaron, 13 and Ja'Kira, 4 - were first inside the church. Aaron held his little sister tightly, and cried as he gazed at his mother one last time. Jakel followed close behind on crutches, placing an arm around them after they sat down.

The church was filled with the sounds of sobbing, as hundreds of mourners felt the impact of what happened last week.

On Jan. 5, police say 38-year-old James Enrico Diago shot and killed Jackie, his ex-girlfriend, at an apartment complex near her Fort Mill home, also injuring 16-year-old Jakel.

But the tears soon subsided, and comfort and relief in the church soon swelled, because although Jackie is no longer part of this world, one thing that can't ever be stopped is her spirit.

Neighbor Gloria Hinton said that though she knew Craine for only about a year, Jackie was a "beautiful person." In fact, the last time she saw Jackie, Hinton told her what lovely eyes she had.

"I felt love," Hinton said, referring to a recent visit. "I felt her presence, her spirit. It was a nice spirit."

At Wednesday's service,the Rev. George C. Mackey did not promise they would ever learn why bad things happen to good people.

Instead, he promised that God would be there through everything.

Dedric Thompson sang about how "weary eyes can't see" why things happen the way they do - but give thanks to God, because he's been good.

Several people stood in agreement and waved their hands.

God's goodness came in allowing so many people to meet Jackie, said Craine's childhood friend Erica Simpson.

The two became friends in eighth-grade homeroom and remained friends through road trips, dates and college.

"She helped me through my first year at college by staying weekends with me," Simpson said.

"And she helped my business by answering phones the first year. ... We always said we were going to do big things. We were each other's cheerleaders."

Craine was a 1996 graduate of Lancaster High School and was a certified medical office assistant out of York Technical College. She also was a graduate of Regency Cosmetology Beauty Center in Charlotte.

Simpson was one of Craine's first clients in her "first shop," which was Jackie's mother's bathroom.

But what she said she admired most about her friend was her maturity, her responsibility and, most importantly, the way she enjoyed life and her children.

Craine moved from Lancaster to Fort Mill to enroll her children in the best schools, Simpson said, and worked 12 hours a day in a glass plant to support them, wearing a heavy suit and steel-toed shoes despite the heat.

"She wanted the best for them in every way," Simpson said.

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