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Bellush murder


Sheila Bellush remembered at service for her love, faith


©St. Petersburg Times, published November 14, 1997

SARASOTA -- Just two months ago, Sheila Bellush made a note in the margin of her Bible next to Psalm 91.

"New strength," it said.

That was just two months before Bellush was murdered in her Sarasota home while her quadruplet toddlers were in the house.

Pastor Mike Landry of the Sarasota Baptist Church read that note and psalm Thursday night to nearly 200 people gathered to remember Bellush and celebrate her faith.

"You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day," the psalm says.

Jamie Bellush, her husband since April 1993, wanted the service to focus on faith.

He stood and spoke about his wife, how she was the center of his life, his emotional support and his best friend.

But mostly he spoke about how strong her faith was and how the family's strength in their beliefs is helping them get through this horrible time.

"Today," he said, just before the tears broke through and he left the podium. "Today, Stevie, Daryl, Frankie, Timothy, Joseph and Courtney have a mommy who's an angel."

Bellush recalled meeting his wife on a Southwest Airlines flight to Texas. The airline has open seating, so Bellush sat next to the pretty woman taking a nap.

"I'm not any dummy," he told the congregation in one of a few humorous moments during a service he wanted to be uplifting.

Then one by one, Bellush introduced the 23-month-old quadruplets who were found wandering around their mother's dead body and who since have captured the hearts of the community.

Earlier, Sheila Bellush's two older daughters, Stevie, 13, and Daryl, 12, rose to speak themselves with poise and strength.

"She was just a wonderful mother," said Stevie, who found her mother dead when she returned home from school a week ago. "I remember my mom as being my best friend."

She recalled hugging her mother that morning, saying goodbye and telling her mother she loved her.

At the request of Jamie Bellush, Landry spoke of Sheila Bellush's belief in Jesus Christ and encouraged people to bow their heads and ask for Christ to enter their lives. Then, with the congregation's heads still bowed, he asked how many had done so.

"Jamie, I want you to know Sheila did not die in vain," he said. "Dozens of people raised their hands."

As the service ended, pictures of Sheila, Jamie, the two older girls and the toddlers flashed on a huge screen over the altar.

The family still is too stunned by the murder to talk to the media, Landry said after the service.

On Thursday, he said, a judge awarded custody of the two older girls to Bellush. They had been the center of a long custody dispute between Sheila Bellush and her ex-husband, Allen Blackthorne. Sheila Bellush had been awarded custody, but Jamie Bellush had not formally adopted the girls.

"When you have to come to terms with the death of your wife and mother, and you have to do it in this context, you have a lot of mixed feelings," Landry said. "It's tough on them."

©Copyright 1998 St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved.