Arrests turn event into celebration
Bell’s friends, family gather in Tonganoxie
What started out as a memorial to raise reward money to find her mother's killer turned into a celebration for Melissa Mathia and other friends and family members of Robin Bell, after news that three suspects were under arrest in her 2005 slaying.
"It makes it a party," said Mathia during Sunday's fundraiser at Chieftain Park. "Hopefully they have enough evidence to convict them."
Around 40 people attended the event, some wearing T-shirts made by the family nearly two years ago that displayed a picture of Bell, who lived in Tonganoxie, and the words "you can take us from her, but you can't take her from us."
Although the weather was in the low 80s and relatively dry when the event started, wind gusts made it unsafe to attempt the hot air balloon rides that Mathia had scheduled as the grand prize for the raffle. The balloon ride was a donation from Mathia's father-in-law, Danny Mathia, pilot for Balloon Adventures Aloft.
Even though the sky was gloomy, the mood at the park was happy.
"Today is a great celebration," said Catherine Bundy, Bell's mother.
Bundy said when she heard the news about the arrest her "heart was beating out of her chest."
"When she died, many people were in an uproar about it," Bundy said. "They were stunned. I can't believe it still."
While Mathia said the arrests were a great relief for her, she was surprised at the age of the suspects.
"When they told us the ages, I couldn't believe it," Mathia said. "They were kids that were still in high school."
Mathia and Don Bell, Robin Bell's husband, plan on attending as many of the court hearings as possible.
Mathia and family were able to raise $550 at Sunday's fundraiser, which she plans on donating to the TIPS Hotline as reward money.
Mathia has another reason to celebrate. She is expecting her second and possibly third child this spring.
Mathia was expecting her son, Chapter, at the time of her mother's death. While she doesn't know if she is going to have twins yet, she expects the delivery to be around April 15.