SARTELL - Over 1,200 people attended the funeral mass in Sartell for 18-year-old Tom Bearson today (Monday). Mourners filled the church, as well as the main gathering area of the St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church.

"Even though I was his older sister, he was my role model," says Bearson's sister, Maddie.

Members of Bearson's family, his girlfriend, and his coach were among the speakers. They talked about how outgoing he was, his smile, and his love of sports.

"Thank you, Tom, for bringing joy to many people's life, I am lucky to have been your teacher, coach and friend," said Bearson's basketball coach Dave Angell.

Tears and laughter were shared throughout the service as many recalled Tom's life.

"I'm going to miss hearing him say 'I love you, mom,' but he is going to hear me say everyday, 'I love you Tom,'" said his mom, Debbie.

Tom's dad, Greg, says the family keeps asking themselves, "Why Tom"? But they could only come up with one answer: "The basketball team in heaven must have needed a point guard," Greg told the crowd.

Bearson was last seen alive early in the morning on September 20th. His body was found in Moorhead last Tuesday. His death has been ruled a homicide, but no arrests have yet been made.

Bearson was a freshman nursing student at North Dakota State University. He graduated from Sartell-St. Stephen high school this past spring.


Bearson Funeral, photo by's Alex Svejkovsky