By EMMA CORNFORD
AS FAMILY and friends of Jay Shepherd yesterday tried to come to terms with his death, the emotion proved too much for his mother.
She broke down a number of times during his funeral service at Grafton's Christ Church Cathedral, crying out to her beloved 'Morgan' whose body was found north of Brisbane two weeks ago.
He is believed to have been murdered and decapitated, and five people have appeared in a Brisbane court charged with offences relating to his death.
His tragic death shocked people who knew him, evidenced yesterday by around 100 mourners; some visibly distressed, others with tear-streaked cheeks.
As the service began and Green Day's Time of Your Life filled the church, people sitting in small groups held each other, united in grief for the vivacious life lost so young.
A poem penned by Jay's sister Shannon touched many at the service.
"No-one could believe the news, and our hearts stopped mid-beat. You were too young to leave us, warm memories now we keep," her poem read.
"Our hearts still ache with sadness, and tears run down our face. We shall always miss you Jay, your passing is hard to take."
Morgan Jay Shepherd, known as Jay, was born in Brisbane in 1987 and spent a number of years in South Grafton where he attended Gillwinga Public School and South Grafton High School.
During the eulogy, read by Di McArthur, Jay was remembered as a confident, charming and sociable young man, with a lust for life and love of animals and music.
"Many people were special to Jay and Jay was special to many people," she said.
"(He) was vibrant and charming but could also become very bored so the antics Jay would engage in are fondly remembered by us ? but are something we will keep as special memories.
"He would always try to get the most out of something but if it didn't work out he would always smile and say 'oh well, it was worth a try'."
When he moved to Brisbane a few months ago, Jay enrolled in an arts course.
And while he may now be gone, his memory will live on in the minds of those who knew him and in the form of street artworks which adorn the walkways of South Grafton.