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Girl who held "Thank You, Mr. Policeman" sign at Baton Rouge officer's funeral follows in his footsteps

Two women form unexpected bond
Mother of fallen officer finds unexpected friendship 05:34

Vicki Melancon, mother of Baton Rouge Police Detective Terry Melancon Jr., lost her son in 2005 when he was fatally shot in the line of duty at the age of 32. Melancon Jr. left behind a community grateful for his sacrifice, many of whom attended a funeral procession for him. 

Among the mourners was 5-year-old Madalynn Jarreau, who stood along the procession holding a sign that read: "Thank you, Mr. Policeman."  

Vicki Melancon said when she saw Jarreau, she remembered feeling a sense of how much the community appreciated her son's sacrifice.

A year later, Melancon met Jarreau, marking the beginning of a remarkable relationship. As Jarreau grew up, Melancon became a constant presence in her life, attending her high school and college graduations, engagement and wedding.

"She's always been there," said Jarreau. "I don't question it. It's just Terry and God knew that we needed each other in our lives. And it's just, we are."

It wasn't long before Jarreau chose to walk in Terry's footsteps, dedicating her life to law enforcement and becoming one of the newest police academy graduates at the East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office.

"I feel like my purpose is to carry on what he left behind," said Jarreau.

Her graduation cap bore a significant message — "What's your purpose?" — a question often asked by Melancon Jr. The graduation just happened to fall on his birthday. 

"Terry died and that wasn't the end," Vicki Melancon said. "There was something way bigger and we have Madalynn here that is carrying that forward. And I know that that is a God thing."

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