Hundreds mourn Utah teen whose death still a mystery
Friends, family and classmates packed a church Saturday to say goodbye to Anne Grace Kasprzak, the Utah teen found dead last week in the Jordan River.
The girl's stepmother, Jennifer Kasprzak, opened with a prayer in which she thanked police for their hard work, expressed gratitude for the public's support and asked God for help in "finding justice for our Annie."
Family describe the 15-year-old as bright, spirited and happy, though not without her struggles. Goofy at times, and a tease, she could be quite stubborn. She had a generous heart, would befriend anyone and was great with kids, they say.
"She was wary of the world, but embraced life with the curiosity of a young child," said her mom, Veronica Kasprzak-Bratcher.
The hourlong service featured a slideshow with photos of Annie hugging her dog, on family trips, at the zoo, opening Christmas presents and taking her first limousine ride. Family made red, beaded bracelets for people to keep in remembrance of the teen's love for making jewelry.
Among those in attendance was Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, who came with his daughter, also named Annie. The two girls attended the same charter school, Summit Academy in Bluffdale, Shurtleff said.
Police offered no new information Saturday about the cause or nature of Kasprzak's death. The Riverton teen's body was found on March 11 shortly after a passer-by spotted blood and a shoe near a footbridge over the Jordan River.
Her parents had reported her as a runaway the night before, and have said there was no obvious reason for her to leave the house.
Annie was adopted from foster care at the age of 10.
Her father, Dennis Kasprzak, recalled his now-ex-wife Veronica coming home one day and "telling me about a beautiful girl who needed a home."
Without elaborating on Annie's early childhood, Kasprzak hinted it left its mark. "We had our struggles, but so many more good moments," he said, recalling how his daughter kept his spirits up during his divorce. "She helped me see things will get better."
Said her younger brother, Jordan, in written comments prepared and read aloud with the help of an adult, "She made the best macaroni and cheese."
Like any teenager, Annie "was always changing her hair, her goals, her mind, her hair color," said her mother, Veronica. But she was equally strong-willed.
"I'm recalling her fixation on keeping her hair straight despite three days of rain at Disneyland," Veronica Kasprzak-Bratcher said. "She always took the bumpy road, testing reality. She taught me to fight for the underdog, and to believe that people can grow, that everyone deserves a chance. She taught me strength, and patience and courage. She taught me a deeper meaning to unconditional love."
How to help
P Draper police are asking the public to call investigators at 801-840-4000 if they saw or had any contact with Anne Kasprzak at any time after 7:45 p.m. on Saturday, March 10.
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