Hundreds of family members and friends held on to each other as they streamed into the lobby of St. Lawrence Church in Lawrenceville to grieve around the five coffins sitting in a circle there.
One of those coffins held the body of Martin Romero. The other four held his children — children who used to love playing in the yard and riding bikes around their Loganville neighborhood. The youngest of those children hadn’t even reached the age of 2, yet.
Hundreds of hands touched the coffins. Hundreds of arms wrapped around hundreds of bodies as the gathered mourners quietly helped each other comprehend the tragedy in front of them. It was a tearful, but peaceful send-off for a family whose death was anything but.
Martin, 33, and children Isabel Martinez, 10, Dacota Romero, 7, Dillian Romero, 4, and Axel Romero, 1, died on July 6 when their wife and mother, Isabel Martinez, 33, allegedly stabbed them early in the morning in their home.
Martinez called the police to report the crime herself. She was arrested and charged with six counts of aggravated assault, five counts of murder and five counts of malice murder. She’s also being held for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Gwinnett County jail. As of Monday, her attorney, Robert Greenwald, had ordered a psychological evaluation for Martinez.
The Romero family’s cousins lived in the same neighborhood, down the street from where Martin and his children were killed. They stood by as first police and then media swarmed into their neighborhood, making their family’s ordeal a national story.
On Thursday, the family asked for peace as they buried their loved ones.
“As you are aware, our family has suffered a tragic event,” according to a statement by the family. “We ask that the public please respect our privacy in our time of mourning.”
Only Diana Romero, 9, lived through the alleged stabbing. Police found her with multiple wounds and rushed her to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta in serious condition.
Diana couldn’t be at her family’s funeral. She’s still in the hospital, although as of July 8 her family had reported that she was awake, breathing on her own and talking. Her family said in its statement on Thursday that Diana is still “steadily improving.”
“Due to the nature of the tragic event she has been through, she will have a long road to recovery both physically and mentally,” according to the statement. “She is surrounded by people who love and support her and will make sure that she is safe and all her needs are met.”
The family has asked that the public continue to donate to their GoFundMe page, which will help pay for Diana’s medical expenses. The fund, which raised more than $36,000 as of Thursday evening, also helped fund the family’s funeral. Those donations and other acts of kindness have helped the Romero family through the past week.
“We would like to thank you all for the outpouring of support and the continuous prayers and donations that have been given to our family through this unimaginable circumstance,” according to the statement. “The love and kindness we have received from may has been a comfort to us in our time of grief.”
On Thursday, that love and kindness found its way into the Romeros’ funeral mass as friends and family grieved quietly together. Only the priest presiding over the mass broke the silence.
“We are going to be OK,” he said. “We are going to be OK because we are here together and we are here with God.”