After months of her remains being discovered on private property, Andreen McDonald was finally laid to rest Saturday.
Her funeral service was held at the Sunset Memorial Park and Funeral Home where he family, friends and loved ones gathered in celebration of her life.
“This is how we want to remember her,” said Donna Hylton, McDonald’s first cousin. “We wanted to celebrate and show the beautiful and caring and loving person she was. The lengths she went to make sure everyone was OK.”
Hylton said those in attendance also remembered McDonald’s ability to love unconditionally.
“Everything she did, she did it intentionally with love and that is rare,” Hylton said. “It is not many people that really wake up every day with intentions of doing and being good to people.”
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Hylton also remembered the funny things about McDonald’s personality.
“Some things I am learning that I did not know were, of course, she was very competitive and loved to work out and loved sports,” Hylton said through laughter. “So competitive, she would cheat. I just learned that she would put the Fitbit on the dog so the dog would make it look like she was achieving all of this walking and running and steps you had to do, and she would always win the competitions. She would own up to it eventually though.”
Even though Hylton cherished the many great memories of McDonald’s, she is still devasted, not only at the fact that she is burying her cousin but also the fact that her cousin died so brutally.
“She was murdered and dismembered by her husband who was a domestic violence situation for many years, and she could not get out of it,” Hylton said. “She was trying to get out of it and she had no help. When you are a victim of violence, you become stuck and frozen in the pain and trauma and hurt.”
She said the number one priority now is to take care of McDonald’s 8-year-old daughter who has autism, and her aunt, McDonald’s mother.
“We have to remember her child,” Hylton said. “That child is now without her mother. We have to do what is in the best interest of that girl who has certain challenges as well. She needs that extra care and that extra attention.”
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Hylton said her aunt needs to be remembered as well.
“We have to take care of her mother, my aunt,” Hylton said. “The woman who raised me when I was a little girl that is still dealing difficulty with the murder of her daughter. No one wants to bury their children. How do you bury a child and how do you take care now of another child who lost her mother so tragically and who doesn’t even understand it?”
Hylton said life has been a major struggle for McDonald’s mother, Hyacinth Smith, since the disappearance of her daughter.
“She just needs all the support and help she can get,” Hylton said. “I will say this on record, there is a lot of things happening. She has been taken advantage of in this tragedy therefore her granddaughter has been taken advantage of in this tragedy. I am just begging the people of San Antonio to continue to embrace this family with love and support as they have done during this journey. I am so thankful for them and for them not giving up.”
When asked specifically how Smith was being taken advantage of, Hylton said it was people Smith trusted the most.
“Andreen had a very promising and amazing assisted living business and that is how she was taking care of her daughter,” Hylton said. “That is how her mother was helping as well and now, it all seems to be snatched away from them without their understanding. We have just now been able to get the lights on in the house. We have just been able to fill their refrigerator with some food. With the help of Pamela Allen and her organization and friends of mine, we were able to pay for this funeral. She has been through a lot. It has been at the hands of those family members outside of our immediate family who have cut her off from everything.”
Family, friends, strangers gather to remember Andreen McDonald
Hylton, who is an activist for raising awareness about the severity of domestic violence, said though she lives far away in New York, she will constantly fight for her family. As far as Andre McDonald, McDonald’s husband and who is accused of murdering his wife, Hylton said they are hoping the right justice is served.
“The family does want justice, but they want justice that is with love and understanding,” Hylton said. “But justice must be served. We just need to ask ourselves, ‘What can we do now to make sure that the other victims in this crime are taken care of.’”