INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Fourteen-year-old Ebony Nicole Dorsey was remembered for her smile and her standard greeting to friends: "Hey, Boo." She was remembered for practicing her dance routines in the school cafeteria and for being a loving and caring daughter.
At her funeral yesterday, mourners filled the Wissahickon High School auditorium in Lower Gwynedd Township to pay their respects to the freshman honor student, who authorities say was killed by her mother's boyfriend while he was in a drug-fueled rage.
"Here I am before you on a day I thought would never come," said Dorsey's stricken father, Evan. He described the last week as the "darkest" of his life.
His daughter's body was found last Sunday in a blue plastic tub concealed under sticks and leaves outside the Montgomery County home of a relative of Mark Patrick O'Donnell's.
Police allege that O'Donnell, 48, of Plymouth Township, beat, sexually assaulted and strangled Dorsey on Dec. 7 while she babysat his 4-year-old daughter. Dorsey was last seen alive the night of Dec. 6, when O'Donnell drove her to his home to babysit.
He spent the night with Dorsey's mother, Danielle Cattie, who told authorities that O'Donnell had been "wired" on crack cocaine when he left her West Ambler home about 5:30 a.m. According to court papers, he returned to his home to find Dorsey changing the toddler's diaper and strangled the teen with her pajama bottoms. At his preliminary hearing, O'Donnell said he had killed the girl because she had molested his daughter.
Philadelphia police are looking at O'Donnell in connection with the triple murder of a family in 2006. He worked as a private-duty nurse in the family's home at the time, law enforcement sources have said.
At Dorsey's funeral, a slide show on a large screen displayed the popular student's progression from baby to young girl to a teen clowning for the camera with family and friends.
Just below the screen sat her white casket, closed and covered with a bouquet of red and white flowers and framed by more floral displays and photos.
Evan Dorsey said he was "thankful for all the days I got to spend with my precious child," and told the crowd how his daughter had grown to become a beautiful young woman. He said was comforted knowing she had touched so many lives.
"Danielle, Ebony loved you so much," Evan Dorsey told the girl's mother during his eulogy. "She loved you so much she wanted to take care of you."
Wearing T-shirts bearing Ebony Dorsey's photo, two dozen children from the American Legion Dancers performed two numbers in honor of their lost friend and fellow dancer.
After the service, a crowd gathered in the corridors outside the auditorium, where remembrances written by students lined the walls.
"She was real bright and energetic," said Anthony Jackson, 16, who got to know Dorsey this year. "You always knew when she was around. She was always happy."
An aspiring artist, Dorsey dreamed of attending Villanova University, where her father works in the information technology department. A prayer service will be held Wednesday at the university.