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Families Say Painful Good-Bye To Hicks Park Murder Victims

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Carissa Horton and Ethan Nichols Carissa Horton and Ethan Nichols
A display of photos and other items of importance to Ethan Nichols and Carissa Horton at their services Saturday. A display of photos and other items of importance to Ethan Nichols and Carissa Horton at their services Saturday.
Mourners comfort each other at the memorial service Saturday morning. Mourners comfort each other at the memorial service Saturday morning.

Emily Baucum, NewsOn6.com

TULSA, Oklahoma -- Families said a painful goodbye to a young couple whose lives were cut too short. Oral Roberts University freshman Carissa Horton and her boyfriend Ethan Nichols were shot and killed, execution style, at a Tulsa park earlier this week. 

With their accused killers now behind bars, friends and family struggle to understand the senseless deaths. 

In a joint memorial service, mourners raised their voices for Carissa Horton - and her angelic melody.

"She knew she was supposed to do something with her music," said Susan Gardner, Carissa's mother.

Their arms were outstretched for Ethan Nichols who always reached out to help however he could.

"When you weren't expecting it, he'd come up behind you and give you a hug, kiss on the cheek," said Ethan's sister, Leanne Clark.

Friends and family celebrated the young couple's love and the sacrifices they made for love.

"Imagine Ethan saving $20 out of every paycheck because one of Carissa's life's dreams was to go to London - and so as his commitment, he was going to make sure that happened," said Pastor Mike Goolsbay, Destiny Church.

9/23/2011 Related Story: Parents Of Tulsa Murder Victim: 'It Doesn't Make Any Sense'
Each had so much life ahead of them. Ethan was 21 and worked at Blue Bell Creamery. Carissa was just 18, with just a month of class at ORU under her belt.

Childhood friends, later boyfriend and girlfriend -- brutally murdered while jogging at Hicks Park.

"I think you wouldn't be human if you didn't ask why. We've asked why so many times," said Daniel Guarjardo, ORU Dean of Students.

Ethan's brother says it took him awhile to find the right words.

"I finally decided what I really wanted to say here is that we are here one day and gone the next," Shawn Clark said.

9/23/2011 Related Story: Family Of Hicks Park Murder Victim Remember Son, Brother Who Made Them Laugh

"And now I really want to share with you the one comfort that I have this week in knowing that one day, there will be a family reunion," he added.

Until then, they fall back on faith to move forward knowing Ethan and Carissa are together forever.

"I don't think they would have wanted to live without one another, so that brings comfort," said Carissa's mother, Susan Gardner.

Ethan Nichols will be buried in Tulsa, while Carissa Horton's parents are bringing her body home to Iowa.

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