A tearful Jayson White looked toward the casket of his 5-year-old son, Kenneth, and apologized.
“Even though I didn’t get a chance to hug you, kiss you or say ‘I love you,’ I want you to know you’re with God now. You’re in better hands, and I hope God will sit you down and make you understand what I was going through,” he said during a Saturday morning funeral service for Kenneth, who police say was strangled and bludgeoned to death in the town of Berne earlier this month by his 19-year-old cousin.
Jayson White of North Adams, Massachusetts, said he hoped his son’s death would encourage family members to love and cherish one another in spite of “dislikes” and “animosity.”
“That’s not what Spiderman was about,” he said, using Kenneth’s nickname, inspired by the boy’s love for the superhero. “Spiderman was about loving, caring, compassion.”
Kenneth’s mother, Christine VanAlstyne White of Amsterdam, did not speak at the service, but the Rev. Scott DeGiorgio read a passage she wrote for Kenneth’s obituary.
“You graced me from day one with your smile and your charm,” the pastor read. “Now you’re up in heaven with all the angels there above, so go and rest in peace my boy. I’ll send you all my love.”
About 50 people attended the 11 a.m. service at Riley Mortuary in Amsterdam, which followed calling hours at 8:30 a.m. Following the short service, Kenneth was buried in Calvary Cemetery in Glenmont.
Guests were encouraged to sign a giant poster with markers, and by the time of the service, it was decorated with personal messages such as “Rest easy bud,” “RIP Kenny” and “There may be tears on Earth, but there are no tears in Heaven.”
During the service, DeGiorgio said the family would want to remember Kenneth as “the Spiderman fanatic that loved his SpaghettiOs and was quick to stand up for his twin sister, Cheyanne.” But he said Kenneth’s death also reminds people “of how precious their children, grandchildren or nieces and nephews are.”
He remarked on the public nature of Kenneth’s death and reminded everyone “when the dust settles and everybody in the community goes back to their normal lives, the family doesn’t get to do that.”
“The best words of encouragement I can give you,” he told the family, “is that Kenneth himself is in heaven with Christ.”
He recalled hearing the first Amber Alert over the radio, which turned out to be a false alert that the boy had been abducted by two masked men, reported by Tiffany VanAlstyne, Kenneth’s cousin and alleged killer. Albany County sheriff’s deputies said VanAlstyne dumped Kenneth’s body in a culvert about 40 yards up Thacher Park Road from the modile home they lived in, then covered him with snow in an attempt to cover up the crime.
DeGiorgio, a friend of the family who preaches at Faith Baptist Church in Petersburgh, said he’s been a Christian for 24 years and a pastor for 15 years, and “I still don’t understand why God allows things to happen the way he does sometimes.”
He said God may allow things to happen, but “it’s people who do things.”
“For a 5-year-old boy like Kenneth to be taken in the way that he was, there is really no way to reconcile that,” he said. “There’s really no way to wrap your head around that or come to terms with that.”
Arnie Smith of Niskayuna rode his motorcycle to the service and said he didn’t know Kenneth but wanted to pay his respects.
“No child deserves this,” he said outside the funeral home, “and my heart goes out to the other two.”
He was referring to two of Kenneth’s sisters, ages 4 and 5, who lived with him. Kenneth’s parents were denied custody of the two girls Tuesday in Albany County Family Court, and they are now in foster care.
Alisha Sherman had very little to say as she waited for the service to begin.
“It’s just sad,” Sherman, a family friend who helped with the arrangements, said as family, friends and strangers paid their respects inside. “There’s not really anything else to be said. Nobody should have to attend a funeral for a 5-year-old baby.”
Sherman said she knew Kenneth throughout his life and described him as “just your average little boy, very happy, loving. He cared about everybody.”
The Broadalbin woman also spoke during the service and asked all in attendance to carry Kenneth’s memory with them.
“And just remember to hold your babies extra tight at night,” she said.
GAZETTE COVERAGEEnsure access to everything we do, today and every day, check out our subscribe page at DailyGazette.com/Subscribe
More from The Daily Gazette:
Categories: News, Schenectady County