The hundreds of mourners who gathered in Catonsville to say good-bye to Jane Frances Tyson, the grade school teacher's aide slain in a parking lot holdup last week, heard her life compared to a gem.
"She was like a jewel, a precious jewel," said the Rev. Lou Martin, of St. Lawrence Catholic Church during yesterday's Christian Wake Service at the Leroy M. & Russell C. Witzke Funeral Home.
"It's almost like we've been violated," he said of her violent death. "She was a precious jewel taken from us."
A a mass of Christian burial was scheduled at 10 a.m. today at St. Lawrence. Internment was to follow at Lorraine Park Cemetery, the family said.
Tyson, 49, was shot in the head last Thursday when two robbers grabbed her purse -- which contained $10 -- while she was sitting in her Buick on the parking lot of Westview Mall. Her 6-year-old grandson and 4-year-old granddaughter watched the shooting, police said.
Tyson, described by friends as a friendly, caring and God-loving woman, died at the scene.
Before the robbery, Tyson had just purchased shoes, which were lying on the front seat of her car, police said.
"It was not God's will," Father Martin told the mourners, but since somebody took her life, God "opened his arms to her."
Police have charged Wesley Eugene Baker, 33, of the 1300 block of Homestead St. and Gregory Lawrence, 34, of the first block of Cheviot Court, with first-degree murder, robbery with a deadly weapon and use of a handgun in the commission of a felony.
Both were being held without bail at the Baltimore County Detention Center, awaiting a bail review hearing today in Towson District Court.
"There's nothing . . . that we can take from this experience and make us understand why violence happens," Father Martin said, adding that people need to spread love to diffuse the violence.
When he first heard the news, Father Martin said, "it was hard for me to let it sink in.
"I said, 'Is this for real? Could someone have made a mistake?' "
At the funeral home, family, friends and other mourners walked to the front of the room to view Tyson for the last time. Some knelt by the side of the pearl gray coffin. Others stood and cried.
"She was a very special person who touched may lives in the community," said her husband, John N. Tyson, 47, pointing to the crowd. He said she was the perfect wife, mother and grandmother.
"Anything she could do, she'd do," he said.
She was a teacher's aide who worked with disadvantaged children at Riverside Elementary School in southwest Baltimore County. She joined St. Lawrence Church in October, Father Martin said.
Besides her husband, Tyson is survived by her three daughters, Tamara Hunsinger, Karen Sulewski and Susan Miller; her parents, Martin and Jane Andree; her brother, Martin E. Andree; and five grandchildren.