Shooting victim Jaime Taccetta with her daughter, Kaitlyn, in a...

Shooting victim Jaime Taccetta with her daughter, Kaitlyn, in a family photo. Credit: Handout

She wore her white wedding dress and a sparkling, gemstone-and-pearl tiara. A pink-and-white bouquet had been placed in her hands.

"Delicate and beautiful, just like her," Felicia Wilcox said of the flowers after attending the Lake Ronkonkoma wake for her niece, Jaime Taccetta.

Taccetta, 33, of Farmingville, was one of four people killed in the Father's Day robbery of a Medford pharmacy.

Her daughters -- Miranda, 16, and Kaitlyn, 6 -- were among many friends and relatives at the visitation Thursday. The girls were accompanied by their father, James Malone, Taccetta's former husband.

Wilcox said she was doing her best to envision the happy day, set for October, when Taccetta was to walk down the aisle, marrying her fiance, James Manzella.

"She would have looked like a real princess," she said, her voice choked with emotion. "Instead, we're gathered here with broken hearts because she was taken away from us in a very tragic and vicious way, and things will never be the same."

Wilcox, who lives in Ridge, is the sister of Taccetta's father, Ralph. She said the family is struggling to cope.

Besides Taccetta, the other slaying victims were Raymond Ferguson, 45, of Centereach; Jennifer Mejia, 17, of Medford; and Bryon Sheffield, 71, of Medford.

After the wake, Ray Malone, James' brother, read a statement the family had prepared that urged lawmakers, doctors and the pharmaceutical industry to take steps to address the nation's prescription-drug abuse crisis.

Wilcox said accused killer David Laffer destroyed more than the lives of four people.

"He's forever changed their families' and extended families' lives," she said. "My niece had her whole life ahead of her. She had a fiance who absolutely adored her and loves those children, and now is devastated."

 

Mournful graduation

The tragedy turned Bellport High School's graduation Thursday night into a bittersweet affair.

Mejia, who would have received her diploma in a red cap and gown, instead was remembered with white balloons released into the sky which represented "her going up into heaven," said South Country school district Superintendent Joe Cipp after the ceremony.

Jennifer's name was not read with those of the other students during the ceremony, Cipp said. But her parents were given her diploma, and a second copy of the document will be buried with her Friday, he said.

"She should be here and she's not," said Nadene Lawrence, 18, who said she was in some of Mejia's classes.

One father who attended the graduation said the night was filled with mixed emotions.

"It's like you can't be happy right now," said Jack Arjoon, 52.

Pahola Bautista 18, of Bellport, said she felt Mejia's presence throughout the ceremony.

"She was there," she said.

Her funeral was scheduled for Friday morning at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Roman Catholic Church in Patchogue.