Funeral for 2-year-old boy beat to death

Michael Pulliam
Michael Pulliam
Jerrod Rudder (Source: Jackson County Sheriff's Office)
Jerrod Rudder (Source: Jackson County Sheriff's Office)

HURST, IL (KFVS) - More than a hundred family and friends of 2-year-old Michael Pulliam gathered on Wednesday night for a candlelight vigil to remember the little boy whose life ended way too soon.

The candlelight vigil was held in the Hurst City Park, a place where little Michael spent a lot of time playing when he was visiting with his step-grandparents.

"He'd say let's go to the park Pa-Pa, let's walk down and see the choo-choo," said Betty Clerk, Michael's step great-grandmother. "And Donald would take him, they would go the park three and four times a day."

During the vigil there were prayers, hugs and many tears shared among those who gathered to say goodbye to the little boy who many say always had a smile on his face.

"It's still a dream and it really hasn't sunk in yet," said Shawna Hutchison, Michael's step-cousin. "Because you think the little boy is going to pop up around the corner with a big smile on his bike. Or pop up with his grandpa Donald. They'd be walking to the park, he'd be bringing him up to the park to play. Or over to my house to play with my daughter."

After a final moment of silence to remember Michael Pulliam the crowd released multi-colored balloons in the air.

"I've had so many people come up to me whose kids played in the park with Michael telling us how much they loved him. They have really helped us get through this, he was loved up here. And we loved him very much. He's gone but he will never be forgotten."

Funeral services are planned at 11 a.m. for Michael Pulliam at Murman & Wilson Funeral Home in Johnston City on Thursday morning. The services are for family and friends only.

Meanwhile, Jerrod Rudder, 24, is charged with two counts of first degree murder, a Class X felony with extenuating terms due to a previous felony conviction on robbery up in Michigan.

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