More than 1,200 people mourned the death of Thomas Bearson, the North Dakota State University student who was killed last week, at a funeral service Monday morning in his hometown of Sartell, Minnesota, as authorities continue the search for his killer.
Family and friends of Bearson, 18, remembered him for his humor, caring personality and love of athletics, the St. Cloud Times reports.
"We've tried desperately to make sense of this tragedy," said Greg Bearson, Thomas' father, according to the Times. "The only thing we can come up with is the basketball team in heaven needed a point guard."
Bearson graduated from Sartell High School last spring and was a four-time letter winner on the basketball team.
“I’m going to miss hearing him say ’I love you, mom,’ but he is going to hear me say every day, ‘I love you Tom,’” said his mother Debbie, according to WJON.
Other members of Bearson’s family, his girlfriend, and his coach also spoke during the service at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, WJON reports.
“Thank you, Tom, for bringing joy to many people’s lives. I am lucky to have been your teacher, coach and friend,” said Bearson’s basketball coach Dave Angell, according to WJON.
After the service, Bearson's cousin Ryan Walsh read a statement from the family.
Bearson disappeared after attending a party near the NDSU campus in Fargo on Sept. 20. His body was recovered and identified three days later in an industrial area of Moorhead on the property of an RV sales business, about six miles away and on the other side of the Red River from the site of the party.
Authorities say Bearson died as the "result of homicidal violence," but haven't released any other information. Moorhead police are asking for the public’s help in finding Bearson’s cell phone and one of his shoes – items that were missing from the scene where his body was found.
Officials at NDSU are encouraging students to walk with others on and off campus at night. On-campus police escorts are available around the clock.