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Family of Diana Alvarez holds funeral service

Posted at 10:41 PM, May 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-30 22:41:35-04

LEE COUNTY, FL. — It was an emotional day as family and friends gathered to say their final goodbyes to Diana Alvarez at James Boyd Funeral Home.

Diana was just 9-years-old when she vanished from her South Fort Myers home back in 2016.

After years of searching, Diana's remains were found earlier this year.

"Now I don't have to wonder if she ate, if she didn't eat, or if she's okay, now I know she is with God," said Rita Hernandez, Diana's mom. "She's one more angel in heaven."

On March 12, the Osceola Sheriffs Office located Diana's remains in their jurisdiction.

The man accused of her murder, Jorge Guerrero, is awaiting trial — charged with first-degree murder and could face the death penalty.

Diana's remains were located in a wooded area of Yeehaw Junction — an area investigators had previously searched in 2016 after tracking Guerrero's phone to that location.

"When they told me it was my daughter, I felt like I couldn't go on and it's still hard, day after day I wake up, and I ask myself why, why us, what did we do to deserve this," said Hernandez.

On Saturday, Diana's family gave her a final farewell with a memorial service, surrounded by people who knew and loved her — including those who assisted in her search.

"We're all family. When we work with families like this with Peace River, they're like our family forever," said Mike Hadsell, President of Peace River K-9 Search and Rescue.

Peace River K-9 Search and Rescue, along with Florida Sonar Search Team, never gave up hope in finding Diana.

"At one point, you're kind of relieved that we have closure, and at the other point, there's still a tragedy and a court case that needs to go on," said Hadsell.

Hadsell says his team had actually met Diana right before she went missing.

The team had been assisting the Lee County Sheriff's Office with a different case near where Diana lived.

Hadsell recalls giving Diana one of his dog's trading card that day.

"When I met Rita, she had one of my dog's trading cards on her desk, and that kind of just tore me apart because I was like I remember this kid," said Hadsell.

On May 17, the family had another memorial service — that day would have been Diana's 13th birthday.

"We had a memorial service where she was found, we went up there and took the family," said Hadsell.

Knowing where Diana was found is something Hernandez says gives her some form of comfort.

"At least now I know where they found my little girl, I know where I can go cry, where I can go talk to her," said Hernandez.

The family says they do have Diana's ashes now and are holding on to them.