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Slain Murrieta Teen Remembered With Laughter, Song, Dance

At a Celebration of Life ceremony Saturday, friends, family and teachers remembered the small, redheaded Murrieta Valley High School senior.

Saskia Savana Burke died in her mother’s womb before she ever came into this world but brought to life again, she lived and loved for 18 years before being torn from her family again in a savage attack.

Saskia was fatally , in her family's home, allegedly by a former family acquaintance, 19-year-old

The suspect is being held on no bail and is due for a court appearance Feb. 24.

At a Celebration of Life ceremony Saturday about 150 people -- friends, family and teachers -- remembered the small, redheaded Murrieta Valley High School senior.

The event was held at the

Though there were tears, there was laughter too, from her schoolmates and friends, and there was even a “Time Warp” dance from her favorite movie, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”

Her young friends and classmates -- along with her dad and mom -- jumped to the left and stepped to the right, doing the pelvic thrust in a celebration of the young woman.

"This is the last, best thing we ever get to do for her," said Saskia's mother, Catherine.

Her mother sang a song and spoke of her daughter's birth, and how worried she was that she and Saskia might not get along.

Catherine Burke said that growing up a tomboy -- she has one older son -- girls never liked her and having a little girl might be difficult.

But Saskia became her best friend, said Catherine.

"Saskia's childhood was filled with fairy tales and magic," Catherine said, explaining that she and her husband, Paul Burke, are artists.

Saskia was stillborn, said Catherine, and she herself bled to death while giving birth.

As she lived in a twilight world before she became fully conscious after being brought back to life, someone whispered the name "Saskia" to her.

Catherine said she believes it was an angel.

Saskia's teachers spoke of how polite, friendly and helpful she was and how truly talented she was in drama and dance.

Saskia had been thinking about applying to Michigan State University but had not selected a major, according to her boyfriend, Connor McCormack.

One thing that brought laughter from her friends was Catherine's assertion that Saskia was a champion sleeper.

As a baby, she could not get through a feeding and as a teenager, she could sleep for hours, get up to eat and go back to sleep.

"If sleep were a skill, Saskia was a professional sleeper," Catherine Burke said to laughter.

Paul Burke spoke with feeling of his daughter, whom he called his "soulmate," and a creative person with whom he worked to build a website.

"You supported me when I was right. You yelled at me when I was wrong ... or right.

"It is so uncommon, to have so much in common."

He ended with the words, "Saskia, when I was lying in the hospital room that night, in a dream you said, 'we will meet again, in a clearing, at the end of the path.

"As you say so, let it be so. Goodbye my dear," he sobbed.

The ceremony ended with a toast -- of Mountain Dew, her favorite drink -- the soda donated by the Pepsi Bottling center in Riverside.

"She lived on the stuff," said her boyfriend, Connor McCormack, following the ceremony.

McCormack, who also wounded in the attack, seemed moved by attendance of so many people.

"It was great to see everyone come out and show how much Saskia made a difference in their lives," McCormack said.

Southwest Viewer February 12, 2012 at 10:47 PM
Mr. Simpson, Why did you murder Saskia? She was such a wonderful young woman and you took that away. I hope you die in prison they are going to love you. I wish I was able to make it to the celebration of life, but I had to work.

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