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Prayers, walkers honor teacher, teen victims

Some of the participants in the vigil walk. Some of the participants in the vigil walk.
Alivia Davis Alivia Davis
Nathan Puckett Nathan Puckett
Jeff Stone Jeff Stone

BARDSTOWN, KY (WAVE) - Parkway Baptist Youth Pastor Matt Flanagan's prayer would lay out both the pleas and the frustrations of a flock that crossed boundaries of school districts, age and race, all seeking answers that neither the law, nor prayer, have provided.

"Father, you are a God who hears our voice," Pastor Flanagan intoned. "And, even when we don't know the words to say your spirit is pleading on our behalf."

"We have lost two students at (Bardstown) high school within a week," Alivia Davis said.

Davis, a graduate in the Class of 2012, organized a prayer walk Friday that honored those students, and two students from Nelson County High School, critically injured in separate car wrecks.

"We've had teachers crying in class, students crying in class," said Nathan Puckett, a Bardstown High junior. "But it's a thing that we go through together."

Puckett's positive that 16-year-old Samantha Netherland was the smartest girl in his Algebra class. For choral instructor Jeff Stone, Samantha was the girl of great range, in voice, and in life.

"Her legacy is, for me in particular is music," Stone said. "She found a place where she could thrive."

Samantha, and her mother, Kathy Netherland, a beloved teacher at Bardstown Elementary, were found in their home in the Botland community Monday. Kentucky State Police believe both were murdered, but they haven't said how the women were killed.

Friday afternoon, troopers released photographs and descriptions of three vehicles which they say may have held witnesses to what happened. All were seen driving from Botland toward Bardstown on US 150 about 8 p.m. April 21. They're seeking a dark, large Ford Pickup, possibly an F-350 or F-450, towing a large cattle trailer – a black, four-door late-model Chevrolet Impala, and an older, red Ford Ranger pickup with after-market fenders.

Troopers released these details barely two hours before the dozens of teenagers, high school athletes, parents and perfect strangers put feet to pavement from Bardstown High's campus to the Nelson County Courthouse. They walked in solidarity for the Netherlands, Taylor and the two injured teenagers. Davis called it nothing less than amazing.

"It just shows there is a presence of God in this community," she said. "Even with all the tragedy, God is obviously present here."

Davis and members of four high school chapters of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes put the prayer walk together in little more than a day-and-a-half.  It's yet another testimony to the power of social media and of old school community.

"You've just gotta be here for each other," said Weslyn Bartholomai, a Bardstown senior. "And be a shoulder to cry on."

Davis is hopeful that all will leave having vented and grieved. But she also hopes that spirits shaken will have strengthened.

"We're trying to pray, just to move forward at this point," Stone said. "And that, to me, is encouraging."

"We're here to pray with you, we're here to talk if you need to talk," Bartholomai said, "we're just here to love on you."

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