SOUTHAVEN, MS - They poured into Brown Baptist Church in Southaven by the hundreds on Saturday. Friends. Coworkers. Family members. All showing up to celebrate the life of 33-year-old China Jones.
"My daughter was this big," says Sandra Phillips, as she surveys the crowd gathered for her daughter's funeral. "She brought a lot of people together in life. She was a giving and sweet person."
Jones was a 1995 graduate of Hamilton High School. She worked for Harrah's for the past decade and also owned her own business called Tax N Time.
She leaves behind 8-year-old son, Elijah, and 16-month-old daughter, Aniyah, along with many broken hearts.
"The thing I'm going to miss about her the most," says childhood friend Tenita Freeman, "is her smile, her award-winning smile."
Freeman's known China since they were 10-years-old. She planned this service, every detail, including the liberal dose of purpled decorating every corner of the church. Purple was China's favorite color.
"The thing most people remember about her," says Freeman, "is her heart. China had a heart to give. Whether she had something to give or didn't, she found a way for those that needed her the most, she was there for them."
Jones was found dead last weekend in the Olive Branch home she shared with her live-in boyfriend, 32-year-old Jelani Greene. Authorities say Greene strangled Jones. Family members tell abc24.com the couple never had problems before the killing.
"All I can say," says China's mother, "is pray for him."
And that's all Sandra Phillips would say about her daughter's accused killer. Her focus on this day is China, a child Phillips called "a gift".
Jones leaves behind many people who loved her, for her heart, her smile, and her generosity.
"This gives me the strength that I need to move on," says Phillips. "And it lets everybody know that I know my daughter. She's in a better place."
Jelani Greene is in the DeSoto County jail on a $1 million bond. A motive for the killing is still unknown.