Funeral for Kameela Russell, murdered Miami Gardens test proctor
The popular test proctor at a Miami-Dade high school and single mother of two whose death shocked the county was celebrated by hundreds Saturday morning.
Family, friends, the Miami Gardens community and officials from across Miami-Dade gathered at St. James Catholic Church to honor 41-year-old Kameela Russell, who went missing and was later found in murdered in a canal.
Hundreds of attendees shuffled into the church dressed in colorful clothing -- Russell’s family requested mourners not wear black. Slow, sorrowful gospel music filled the church as they found their seats.
Before the service began, Glenthea James and Evric Hudnell danced “I Need You Now” by Smokie Norful in front of Russell’s ashes and the gathered mass.
Some cried to the performance; others bowed their heads.
In attendance at the service, which lasted a few hours, were Miami-Dade Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho and Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver G. Gilbert III.
“This is a humbling ceremony. This isn’t about how some left us, it’s who they were when they left and sending them home to be with the Lord,” Gilbert said.
Russell was born in the Bahamas but moved to Boston when she was younger. She took music, drama and dance lessons. She attended Norland Middle School in Miami Gardens, studied at the School for Advanced Studies at Miami Dade College and graduated from Florida State University.
Before becoming a test proctor at Norland Senior High School, she became a probation officer and entered the Miami-Dade County Public Schools system as a teacher at Walter C. Young Middle School in 2014, her mother said.
A Normal Day and a Childhood Friend Arrested
The day Kameela Russell died was supposed to be an ordinary day.
She planned to pick up her daughter at her aunt’s home and take her to gymnastics class, but that never happened.
When Russell got to her aunt’s driveway she abruptly left in her black Audi and drove off. She vanished, and the search to find her began.
A week and a half later, 16-year-old Juqwan Brown was sneaking out of his Miami Gardens home to take a swim in the pool when he made a frightful discovery — Russell’s body.
It was wrapped in a clear plastic tarp floating in a canal two minutes away from Russell’s aunt’s home and across the street from the home of the man who was arrested and charged with her murder — Ernest Joseph Roberts.
He was a childhood friend of Russell’s who served as assistant principal at Norland High, where she was a test proctor. He was later transferred to Linda Lentin K-8 Center in North Miami.
Roberts was arrested on May 31 after a janitor’s note revealed that he tried to have his car chopped up and disposed of. He also asked the janitor how he could clean up blood.