THOMASVILLE, Ga. — The community will hear a lot about Deanna Shirey at a Thursday celebration of her life.

Shirey, who had been missing from her Thomasville home for 10 days, was found dead behind the Thomasville residence of Robert Lee Carter II, the sole suspect in the case.

The 70-year-old woman's family came to Thomasville immediately after their loved one was declared missing on July 3. The relatives, including her three children, said they would not leave until Shirey was found.

The family is touched by the community's concern and support before — and since — the body was found.

"The community has been so supportive," said Nick Abiusi, Shirey's son-in-law, a West Palm Beach, Florida, resident.

The 6 p.m. Thursday celebration of Shirey's' life at First Baptist Church is a way to step forward in needed closure in the case, Abiusi said.

The family needs closure "in this gaping wound that has becomes our lives right now," he said.

Abiusi said Shirey's family members hope the Thursday event will help local residents "get better."

In addition to Abiusi, Shirey's sister, Nancy Parnell, of Gloucester, Massachusetts, will speak at the celebration.

Shirey, a Thomasville resident since 2005, retired from Public Supermarkets, then returned a year later to work part-time. She was employed at the Thomasville Publix.

Abiusi, manager at a Jupiter, Florida, Publix, said the family wants local residents to know "who Deanna was behind that sweet smile they saw at Publix."

The family, he said, is seeking closure for the loss of "our beloved mother."

The celebration, which is open public, will be followed by a reception with light refreshments at the First Baptist fellowship hall. 

“First Baptist Church is honored to host the celebration of Deanna Shirey’s life, and there are really no words for the sorrow we feel for her family and friends at this terrible loss. We offer our prayers and deepest sympathy to her family, and we pray the service will be a time of healing and hope for them and our community," a church spokesman said.

Senior reporter Patti Dozier can be reached at (229) 226-2400, ext. 1820 

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