07/23/04 — Family, friends gather for sad farewell to murdered mom

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Family, friends gather for sad farewell to murdered mom

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on July 23, 2004 1:59 PM

April Best reached tiny hands toward her father and cried.

David Best, who was allowed to leave Neuse Correctional Institute to attend the funeral of his former wife, held his 8-month-old daughter briefly while the family filed into the packed chapel at Shumate-Faulk Funeral Home. Best went to prison in April for breaking and entering charges and will be released in September.

The Rev. T.C. West told the 700 people attending Debra Lyn Best's funeral Thursday night that her memory will always be near.

"You'll remember her big smile as she greeted those she loved ... her young and energetic life always there for you. As this child grows, she will always keep you close to Debra."

The baby reportedly saw her mother die Sunday. Investigators said Jamie Faulkner, 31, of LaGrange shot Debra Best, who was 19, and then turned the sawed-off shotgun on himself. Ms. Best lived on N.C. 111 South near Seven Springs.

Family members said Faulkner, who was 31, was a former boyfriend and had been stalking Debra before she agreed to meet him Sunday.

She and her cousin, Susan Holland, had picked him up to take him home. There had been no history of domestic violence, and Debra had told relatives she didn't think Faulkner would hurt her. The shooting occurred around 9 p.m. Sunday on Roy Sutton Road in Lenoir County.

Debra Lyn Howell Best was born Feb. 20, 1985 in Wayne County to Tammy Lyn Lane Mitchell and the late Edward Ray Howell III.

Her adopted father, Gilbert Garris of Seven Springs, said he hopes someone's life will be saved because of Debra's story.

"It makes no sense to do this sort of thing," he said this morning. "Everybody loved Debra."

After attending high school at Spring Creek, Debra Lyn obtained her GED through Wayne Community College.

On Jan. 17, 2004, she married David Best.

Eight months ago, they had April.

"April was Debra's pride and joy," said a message printed on the bulletin handed to those attending the funeral. "They would play together all day, every day."

The baby is with Mrs. Mitchell, Debra's mother, and the family has said she is doing well.

April doesn't know what really happened, said the Rev. West, and he doesn't know how it will affect her life. But as she grows, he said, she will remember the friends who gathered to pay tribute to her mother.

"Death is never a welcome visitor into any home," he said, "especially when so unexpected, and it comes to someone so young."

Not understanding something is not a weakness, he said. But when standing face-to-face with God, the things we can't see now will be revealed.