Yesterday, the three children who drowned when their mother drove them into the Hudson River in a tragic murder-suicide were remembered at a funeral service, but the somber rites were marred by family tensions between the dead mother's family and the children's father. Jean Pierre decided last week to bury the 5-year-old Landenm 2-year-old Lance, and 11-month-old Lanaina away from their mother, LaShanda Armstrong, and some of Armstrong's relatives claimed they were shut out of the funeral. Her cousin Gwendolen Green yelled, "We matter. We are somebody. Don't exclude us. ... Today only one side of the family was represented."
Pierre's attorneys claimed that none of Armstrong's family was banned, but said that the Armstrong relatives were asked to provide a guest list. While LaShanda Armstrong's reasons for killing herself and her children are not clear, many of her friends and relatives blamed her tumultuous relationship with Pierre, who reportedly cheated on her and was hearing banging on her door 30 minutes before she drove to the river. Pierre denied responsibility for Armstrong's decisions, but Green said of Pierre, "He's carrying on so [much] in there, screaming and hollering. The guilt is filling him up. Treat the mother right! Don't abuse! Pay child support! You're supposed to take care of people when they're alive!"
According to the NY Times, "The three white coffins were so small that they needed to be lowered into the ground by hand. The little girl in one, not even a year old when she died, wore a white Easter dress, and the two young boys wore dark suits." Their older, half-brother, 10-year-old LaShaun Armstrong who survived by escaping the sinking minivan and swimming to shore, was not at the funeral because his family was concerned it would be too much for him.