Katelynn Arnold’s funeral was held at Hardin’s Chapel Bible Church. She was found by family members late Thursday hanging from a tree. Authorities took her 14-year-old half-brother into custody early Friday morning.
Ragland Elementary School counselor Genny Ball said Katelynn was your typical third-grade student.
“She was a little more petite than most third-graders, but full of energy and spirit,” Ball said. “Katelynn was a good student. She was smart, well behaved and had a lot of friends. She was a bit on the quiet side, but her smile was what you remembered.”
Ball said she remembers Katelynn giggling when she would cut up with her and her friends in the hall.
“She told me not too many weeks ago that I was her favorite counselor,” Ball said. “In counseling classes, she was very pleasant and eager to participate.”
Ball said at Ragland Elementary, they counsel children in tragedies like these as a whole class at first.
“We go around to each class and tell what has happened, no details, and let them ask questions if they want to,” Ball said. “I then will see kids on a need-to basis, depending on a referral from their teacher, an observation from myself, and if the student comes to me themselves. We have many other counselors on standby in the event we need them. Heaven must have been missing an angel.”
Ragland School assistant principal Tammy Echols said Katelynn was a precious little girl.
“She never got in trouble at school,” Echols said. “She was a very good friend to her classmates. She loved coming to school and loved her teacher, Mr. Josh Ford. She often wanted to go talk to Ms. Ball. Every time you saw her in the hall, she had a smile on her face. She was a precious, sweet little girl.”
One of Katelynn’s classmates at school was Lexie Walker, who said Katelynn was one of her best friends.
“She gave me a signed poster one time of a couple of pop stars,” Lexie said. “They were Zac Efron and Demi Lovato.”
St. Clair County District Attorney Richard Minor said Monday that he could not comment on the matter because it involves a juvenile defendant. Minor did confirm that the defendant has a court appearance scheduled for June.
— Home staff writer Will Heath contributed to this story.
Contact Gary Hanner at firstname.lastname@example.org.