Army Col. Parker Schenecker was in Qatar when he learned that his 16-year-old daughter Calyx and 13-year-old son Beau had been found dead in their Tampa, Fla., home Jan. 28 - and that his wife was accused in their slayings.
"I know my children were loved. They knew they were loved," Schenecker told more than 500 mourners at the Christ Chapel Bible Church in his hometown of Fort Worth. "Now we all must go forward to honor them with love and respect for each other."
No one who spoke at the memorial mentioned the teens' mother, Julie Powers Schenecker, who remains jailed without bail on charges of first-degree murder after telling detectives she killed her children for being "mouthy."
She also did not appear in any of the dozens of photographs flashed across two large screens that showed Calyx and Beau growing up - as babies on the beach, as youngsters hugging relatives and as teens laughing with their friends.
Calyx was a gifted artist who excelled at track and cross country, and had recently led a school fundraiser for a charity, said the Rev. Ted Kitchens. One of her relatives called her "sublime" and said she was a mature soul inside a young body, filled with light and life, Kitchens said.
Beau was a playful, energetic boy who had many friends because he was so sensitive to others' needs, the pastor said.
Kitchens said though many may be asking why God would allow for such a tragedy, "someday God will reveal (the reason) to us, and that's our hope."
A white cross adorned with a large arrangement of white roses stood in front of the speakers' podium, and candles flickered nearby in the quiet sanctuary. A private burial service was held at a Fort Worth cemetery before the memorial service.
Authorities say Julie Schenecker bought a .38-caliber revolver the weekend before the shootings. A note she wrote that was found in the family's home made reference to a three-day gun waiting period, and how it would "delay the massacre," said Tampa Police spokeswoman Laura McElroy.
Julie Schenecker's mother had called from Texas and asked police to check on her daughter, who apparently had been depressed and complaining about her children. Officers found the 50-year-old unconscious on the back porch of their upscale Tampa home on Jan. 28, her white robe covered with dried blood, according to court documents.
Calyx had been shot in the head while sitting at a computer doing homework the previous night, authorities said. Beau was found dead in a van in the garage, and he had been shot "for talking back" while his mother drove him to soccer practice the previous night, authorities said.
Associated Press writer Tamara Lush in St. Petersburg, Fla., contributed to this report.