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Faith Helps Parents Cope With Daughter's Death

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18-year-old Kaitlyn Finnegan 18-year-old Kaitlyn Finnegan
Jim Finnegan says his daughter forged more meaningful friendships in 18 years than he has made in 50. Jim Finnegan says his daughter forged more meaningful friendships in 18 years than he has made in 50.

By Jeffrey Smith, News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Bishop Kelley High School remembers one of its own.  Senior 18-year-old Kaitlyn Finnegan was set to graduate next month.  Now her parents are planning her funeral.

Bishop Kelley opened the school day with an all-student prayer session to mourn Finnegan's death.  And after school, hundreds of family members, friends, and classmates attended a mass.  In between services, Kaitlyn's parents spent Monday afternoon finalizing funeral arrangements.

"I wanted to watch her graduate.  I wanted to walk her down the aisle.  I wanted to hold her children," said Kaitlyn's father, Jim Finnegan.

Instead of getting ready to take her prom picture later this month, Jim Finnegan is finalizing funeral arrangements for his only daughter, Kaitlyn Finnegan.

Her parents say the 18-year-old senior was the light of their lives, a best friend, a debate partner, and an inspiration.

"She touched more people in her short time, than I think I've touched my whole life," said Jeanne Finnegan, Kaitlyn's mother.

She'll remember her blue eyes and her giggle.

That giggle touched all of her Bishop Kelley classmates, it seemed.  More than 300 of them posted

memories and messages of a girl that was stranger to no one, friend to everyone on Facebook.

"It's wonderful. I mean it hurts, I haven't slept and I cried every day. But it makes me happy," said Jim Finnegan.

Her parents say they purchased Kaitlyn's high school graduation cards last week.  Now, they have to buy a condolence book for her funeral.

"If they were having a bad time, Kaitlyn was there to make it all better," said Jeanne Finnegan.

Tulsa Police say Theo Fleming, a sophomore at Jenks High School, shot Kaitlyn in the chest on Saturday night.  He then went to the Finnegan's house, and later hitched a ride with her dad to the hospital.

"He just looked me in the eye and lied," said Jim Finnegan.

Mr. Finnegan says Fleming made up a story about a drive-by shooting.  Police say he later told them he shot Kaitlyn by accident.

"It's not an accident when you carry around a gun, that's loaded.  And, he was pointing at her, and apparently he walked up to her and stuck it in her chest and shot her. That's not an accident," said Jim Finnegan.      

Her parents say messages from friends help them know her spirit will live on.

"It comforted me. It just showed me, it just showed me Kaitlyn made a difference," said Jim Finnegan.

Kaitlyn is survived also by a 14-year-old brother.  He insisted that his club league soccer game not be canceled on Monday night.

4/4/2009 Related Story: Bishop Kelley Senior Shot To Death

Meanwhile, more is being learned about what happened in the minutes before Kaitlyn Finnegan's death. 

Kaitlyn, Theo Fleming and two other teens were hanging out at a house on Saturday night.  After the shot rang out, no one called 911, but one of the other teens drove Kaitlyn to the hospital.

Fleming went to Jim Finnegan's house and later went to the hospital with him.  Finnegan says Fleming made up a story about a drive-by shooting while Kaitlyn was walking her dog.

Fleming has been arrested for first degree murder.

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