The community is invited to attend a graveside memorial service for Mackenzie Branham this Saturday at 5 p.m. at Fairview Cemetery in Jeffersonville.
Mackenzie’s body was exhumed for more testing Tuesday by the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office, according to Mackenzie’s father Donald Branham.
“There’s more that they can find today with DNA testing than they could 10 years ago so they exhumed her body for more DNA testing. Hopefully there is something there that will help with the case,” said Branham.
He said Mackenzie’s body was re-buried the same day. Mackenzie Branham was 8-years-old when she died tragically April 27, 2006 in a house fire that was set intentionally. The death was ruled a homicide but after more than a decade no leads have discovered the true cause of the fire.
“It’s not easy to bury your child the first time. To bury her the second time was hard. When they went to lower the tomb, all I kept thinking to myself was that I wanted to take her home. I have to admit, what I’m trying to say is, I’m glad I got to hold my daughter again. I didn’t hold her physically but I got to hold her casket and kiss the top of her casket,” said Branham.
Branham said the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office and the Jeffersonville Fire Department helped him to carry Mackenzie’s casket to her grave in the cemetery. The Fayette County Prosecutor’s Office and the Fayette County Coroner directed the process of exhuming her body, which had been buried in 2006.
“I’m doing this graveside memorial so that the people who are helping me through this with support to get justice for Mackenzie can meet me, and so I can thank them personally for all of their support, and to let my daughter Mackenzie know that we are all there for her and want to get justice for her arson homicide,” said Branham. “When we were there (at the gravesite Tuesday), they were so respectful. Everyone that was there was respectful. They treated it to the highest it could be treated. They did it respectfully. I give a lot of credit towards the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office and the people who were involved in this and the respect that they gave.”
Branham said he was asked a few years ago by officials working on the investigation if Mackenzie’s body could be exhumed and he gave permission.
“They always told me there was a chance this was always going to happen and they wanted to know how I felt about it and I told them I was for it. Anything that can help convict who did this to my baby, I’m all for. Then they showed up at my house Monday and told me they would like to do it. They were so respectful and put her in a new casket and everything, too. And then Joy Stanforth (Fayette County Sheriff Vernon Stanforth’s wife) came and did a closing speech and a prayer. Everyone who was there was in tears. The good thing about this is that my daughter can rest now,” said Branham.
Branham said the ongoing effort to find justice for Mackenzie has been a community effort. Branham keeps people up-to-date with information posted in the Facebook group “Justice for Murdered Mackenzie Taylor Branham.” Branham said the group has over 200 members now and everyone can follow the stories published on the case, including those from news channels going back as far as 2006.
“That’s what a father is supposed to do. When you lose a child to an unfortunate thing, you fight for justice for your child,” said Branham. Branham said he won’t give up the fight for justice, no matter how much people try to discourage him.
He said there was a social media page on Facebook that was “bashing” his efforts as a parent seeking justice for his daughter and propelling lies. He said he had nothing to do with that social media page and the page was taken down Wednesday after Branham did a live-feed video.
“If you’re not fighting for justice for your child, you’re not a parent. I don’t understand the bashing of me because I did what I did. Well, if it’s to find out what happened to my child, and these officers and the DNA pathologists believe there was something there that could help this case, I mean, why wouldn’t you do it?” said Branham.
Branham said anyone from the community is invited to come out to the memorial Saturday afternoon.
“I would love for the commissioners to come out. I would love for any Fayette County officials to come out and support,” said Branham. “God gave me a second chance to hold my baby. The important thing is that now she’s resting.”
Fairview Cemetery is located at 13260 OH-41 in Jeffersonville.
Ashley may be contacted by calling her at (740) 313-0355 or by searching Twitter.com for @ashbunton