Remembering Molu Zarpeleh

Local News

BROOKINGS, S.D. (KELO) – Family and friends are remembering a 10-year-old boy who was found dead in a pond in Brookings this weekend.

Molu Zarpeleh was reported missing Thursday evening. The next day, crews found him in a privately-owned retention pond.

Nyla Schoeld will never forget Molu Zarpeleh’s bright smile and all the memories she made with him and his family.

“My favorite way to explain him is a light, he had a bright smile, he would hug his teachers, always have a hug for you, they were the best hugs, and that’s how he was here on Sunday with the congregation, extremely polite,” pastor First Lutheran Church, Nyla Schoeld said.

Schoeld is the pastor at First Lutheran Church in Brookings.

She first met Molu’s dad, Mole Zarpeleh about 8 years ago. She met the rest of his family a few years later after they were able to move to Brookings from Liberia.

“They now have four children, and all four of them are my godchildren, they call me grandmother and both Mole, the father, and Phhilimena, the mother, call me mother and my husband father, so they have become family to us,” Schoeld said.

She says due to the pandemic, she hadn’t been able to see the Zarpeleh family as often as usual but holds closely one particular memory of Molu from Christmas time.

“Just hanging out with the kids, and he was so proud of this airplane he had created out of paper and tubes and to just see the creativity and excitement and pride and to share that with him and his sisters, is probably what means the most, is those moments,” Schoeld said.

A little boy who made a lasting impact on those who knew him.

“He was somebody that children in the community, who knew him at school are crying and are devastated, parents, teachers, it’s affecting all of us, and we want to continue to honor his memory and lift up the stories and encourage those stories to be shared with the family,” Schoeld said.

The church is also accepting donations to help pay for funeral expenses. Schoeld says once those are paid, the rest of the money will go to the family. Donations can be made to First Lutheran Church with the memo line ‘Molu’s Fund.’

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