One year later: Carnel Chamberlain's family waits for remains - WNEM TV 5

One year later: Carnel Chamberlain's family waits for remains, plants memorial tree

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MT. PLEASANT, MI (WNEM) -

The murder scene is now an empty lot. The porch and home that hid Carnel Chamberlain's remains for a week are gone. But the memory of the four-year-old won't soon be forgotten.

"As we held hands around this tree, this is all we got right now. This is all we can have right now," said Kevin Chamberlain, a member of Carnel's family.

Friday, a tree planted will help carry on his Carnel's memory. The Red Oak will be planted on this exact spot with the exact soil that covered Carnel's body. The Red Oak is expected to grow to be about 80' tall, and the family says as it matures, so does Carnel in spirit.

"Where he was at is going to help nurture this tree, and again, the fruits of this tree, the acorns that drop, anybody can come and get them, they can come and get them, and plant them in their front yard, back yard, back-40, and he will live on forever," Kevin Chamberlain said.

A year later, the tree planting moves the family a step closer to closure. The real closure won't come until investigators release Carnel's remains to his family. That's when they will finally be able have a proper burial.

"That process in our culture is everything in regards to having closure. Well, we can't do that," said Kevin Chamberlain.

"It's bittersweet, it's bittersweet," said Joann Moses, who held her five-year-old granddaughter Gabriella at the site Friday night.

"Carnel was my best, best friend," said Gabriella while in her grandmother's arms.

Moses said Gabriella is just six months older than Carnel, and they were close. Moses said as Gabriella and the Red Oak mature, Carnel's memory will grow along with them.

Chamberlain's family said the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe has designated the spot where Carnel's remains were found as a memorial for the little boy. There are plans of turning it into a park.

As far as the court case for Carnel, it will pick back up in January. Anthony Bennett, who is charged in the little boy's murder, will have his trial in Bay City's Federal Court. The Chamberlain family told TV5 Friday night that's when public support is needed immensely.

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