Updated at: 12/06/2012 11:05 PM
By JAMIE STENGLE
(AP) BLUE RIDGE, Texas - The slain girlfriend of Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher was a loyal friend who brought joy to others with her smiles and laughter, a relative said Thursday at a memorial service for the woman.
Belcher fatally shot 22-year-old Kasandra Perkins on Saturday at the Kansas City home they shared with their 3-month-old daughter, Zoey. He then drove to the Chiefs practice facility at Arrowhead Stadium, where coach Romeo Crennel, general manager Scott Pioli and defensive assistant Gary Gibbs witnessed Belcher commit suicide.
Perkins was from Texas, and family and friends gathered at a church in Blue Ridge on Thursday to remember her. Her great-uncle Ted Downing said Perkins considered Zoey to be the love of her life.
"She had a deep, deep understanding about the important things in life," Downing told mourners.
He recalled a time in Perkins’ childhood when she got upset that a friend of hers didn’t get a desired part in a play.
"She always had no shortage of friends _ and I mean good friends," Downing said.
A white casket bedecked with a spray of white lilies and pink roses was the mourners’ focal point at Ridgeview Family Fellowship in Blue Ridge, about 40 miles northeast of Dallas.
Steve Sweeney, senior pastor at Ridgeview, offered a prayer for God to bring healing to both her family and Belcher’s family. He also prayed for strength for Zoey, who was at the service.
Downing told the about 200 mourners, including Chiefs team chairman Clark Hunt, that Perkins always called him her "aunt" after her brother had decided for some reason to call his wife "uncle." He said that in recent months, Perkins had informed him she’d be calling him "auntie" to reflect the diversity in their multiracial family.
He said Perkins had a knack for making everyone she met "feel like the most important person in the world."
"To put it simply, Kasi loved life," he said.
According to a police report, officers were called to the Kansas City, Mo., home of Belcher, 25, and Perkins about 7:50 a.m. Saturday. Police found Perkins on the floor of the master bathroom.
Belcher then drove about five miles to Arrowhead Stadium. When police arrived, Belcher moved behind a vehicle, out of clear view of officers, according to police. He then knelt down and shot himself once in the head.
According to Perkins’ obituary, she was born in nearby McKinney, just north of Dallas, and attended elementary and middle school in the Dallas suburb of Garland. She graduated from Anderson High School in Austin in 2009. She wanted to become a teacher.
Downing said after the service that it hasn’t been decided yet who will raise Zoey.
The service included a slideshow of photos of Perkins as she grew up, from a shot of her with a cowboy hat on a horse as a young girl to posing in a graduation gown to photos of her pregnant and then with her daughter.
As the slideshow of photos ended, a note from Perkins’ mother was shown in which she writes that she’ll promise to make sure Zoey knows "what a beautiful person her mother was."
Downing ended his eulogy by saying, "Goodbye for now, Kasi. We’ll see you one day. I love you."
Another service for Perkins will be held in Austin, where Perkins’ father lives. Life Celebration Funeral Home said that service will be held Saturday, followed by burial in nearby Pflugerville.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)