0

Family: Slain mother buried

Special Photo. Dominique "Nique" Leili is seen here with her husband Matt, who authorities said is now a suspect. Matt reported her missing July 11, telling police she'd vanished two days prior.

Special Photo. Dominique "Nique" Leili is seen here with her husband Matt, who authorities said is now a suspect. Matt reported her missing July 11, telling police she'd vanished two days prior.

LAWRENCEVILLE -- An intimate gathering of family and friends laid the cremated remains of Nique Leili to rest during a private Thursday ceremony at Evergreen Memorial Park in Athens. She occupies a plot next to her grandfather, Harold Lay, an integral figure in the lives of Leili and her sisters.

Albeit delayed by litigation, the ceremony brought closure to Leili's family, who are now focused on grieving the loss, assisting Leili's daughters and seeing that her killer be prosecuted.

"We're all just trying to help the police with their investigation as much as possible, and return our lives to something resembling normal," said Leili's sister, Amy Elk, on Friday.

The funeral, officiated by Leili's uncle, Rev. Curtis Murdock of Beech Haven Baptist Church, came nearly two weeks after volunteer searchers and friends found Leili's decomposing body in her neighborhood woods, less than a mile from her Lawrenceville home.

Police and prosecutors are pursuing the case as a homicide, though no cause of death has been released. Police have named only one suspect -- Leili's husband of 13 years, Matt Leili, who has insisted via his attorney he committed no crimes.

Three weeks since the 44-year-old vanished after an argument with her husband at their home, no charges have been brought.

A strange legal battle over control of Nique Leili's remains was settled outside of court this week when the two sides agreed to have separate funerals. Though a consent order permitted Matt Leili to essentially borrow the remains for his own funeral, he did not do so, Elk said.

Nique Leili's 19-year-old daughter from a previous marriage had petitioned and was granted control of the body Monday.

Elk said Matt Leili continues to deny her family visitation or phone calls with the couple's two daughters, ages 9 and 12. Matt Leili has declined comment via his attorney.

Nique Leili's father, Douglas Chatham, has filed for custody of the two girls. A hearing on that matter is scheduled Aug. 15.

Authorities have said they'll pay close attention to the results of toxicology testing being performed at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation's crime lab. Gwinnett officials have asked that those tests -- which take, on average, about three months to complete -- be expedited.