Mourners packed a Hempstead church Friday to remember Lynn and Melissa Vanderhall as a selfless mother and daughter who were taken too soon.
Family and friends filled Jackson Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church, where a white coffin and pink urn were flanked by floral wreaths and photographs of the women.
Lynn and Melissa Vanderhall were killed inside their home early last Saturday, along with Melissa’s high school friend Janel Simpson, when, police say, Lynn Vanderhall’s son attacked them with a framing hammer.
Bobby Vanderhall Jr., 34, was charged with three counts of second-degree murder and one count of attempted murder involving a fourth woman who managed to escape with minor injuries.
Police have said the attacker has a history of “emotional issues” and had been recently kicked out of the house and made homeless.
During the morning service, the Rev. Malcom J. Byrd told mourners: “I asked, ‘Why, God? Why this? Why now? Why, God, do you have interest in those we love the most?’
“I wish I had an answer for what brought all of this and why this happened,” Byrd added. “In the midst of grief and sorrow, I still believe there is a God.”
Lynn Vanderhall, 58, graduated from Uniondale High School in 1977 and married her high school sweetheart, Bobby Vanderhall, who died of a heart attack in 2010. She worked for 30 years as a nursery school teacher at the Family and Children’s Association in Hempstead.
Family members said she was always a reliable relative and friend who opened her home to everyone. Her family said she loved perusing garage sales for hidden treasures.
“There’s no rewind button now,” Lynn’s brother, William Reichenbach Jr., said. “I could say how sad I am, but why state the obvious. It’s hard to find the silver lining here, but there is one. It’s that Lynn and Melissa are here looking over us and trying to console us. Put your hand over your heart and you can feel their spirit.”
Melissa, 29, was a multisport athlete at Uniondale High and was named prom queen her junior year.
She was a four-year letter winner in volleyball at the University of Tampa, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in allied health. She received a master’s in physician assistant studies from Touro College.
She was working at Lincoln Medical & Mental Health Center and Urban Health Clinic’s emergency room in the Bronx. She also was a Big Brothers Big Sisters volunteer.
The front row of the church was filled with her former Tampa volleyball teammates.
“To know Mel was to love her,” said one of the volleyball players, Julie Howlett. “She had her own style and she had the ability to lead by example. She shared a heart with her mother and had a knack for living.”