THE three tearful daughters of tragic Darren Waller bravely led his coffin into a chapel for an emotional goodbye.
Holding a single red rose each, Kayleigh, 16, Ellie, eight, and five-year-old Leah sombrely guided their dad’s hearse into Hartlepool’s Stranton Grange Crematorium.
They were met by dozens of mourners who then crowded into the town’s Tanfield Road chapel for a touching 20-minute service in tribute of Darren, 36, who had not been seen since January 9 before his body was found 11 days ago.
Reverend Bill Worley said: “I have heard that he loved his daughters to bits, they were his little lasses.
“This is certainly a parting with all the heartache, but it’s not a goodbye. The body dies and the spirit lives.
“Keep all these memories and let the love go on. Remember that with time another dawn breaks and that death can not kill love.”
Darren’s coffin carried blue and white flowers spelling Daddy which lay alongside a small teddy. His two favourite songs, Ghetto Gospel and Changes by rapper Tupac Shakur, were also played in the chapel.
His ashes are to be put on the grave of his dad Kenny, who died 17 years ago.
A pillow-shaped bouquet left by his mum Kathleen Waller, 61, carried the message: “I’ll miss you so much son. From your heartbroken mam. Safe in the arms of his dad. Gone too soon.”
Flowers left by his ex-wife and mum of their children, Lisa Gleaves, 36, of Owton Manor, Hartlepool, had the note: “Sleep peacefully darling. I’ll never forget you and the memories will never fade. All my love Lisa.”
Among other bouquets was one from “all at Hartlepool Police Office”.
Officers and detectives had taken part in extensive searches after Darren, who lived in Alma Street, Hartlepool, was reported missing.
They scoured caravan parks, empty houses and industrial wasteland in a bid to find him and supported Darren’s family in numerous appeals, which culminated in an appearance on BBC’s Missing 2011 national TV programme.
But their efforts were in vain and on May 18 a body was found by a dog walker on grassland on Hartlepool’s Central Estate.
It was confirmed two days later that it was Darren, but questions remain unanswered as to why he was there and how he came to die.