Service honors Detroit woman found dead in home

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

Detroit — Family and friends of Gracie Hughes gathered a church on the city’s east side Saturday to celebrate her life and honor her memory.

Hughes, 56, was found last week stabbed and burned to death in her childhood home in the 5000 block of Parker.

Family and friends of Gracie Hughes, of Detroit, pay tribute and embrace during a memorial service at Zion Hope Missionary Baptist Church on Saturday. Hughes was found earlier this month slain in the dilapidated childhood home she vowed not to leave.

A couple of hundred people packed an 11 a.m. memorial service at Zion Hope Baptist Church on Van Dyke between East Warren and East Forrest avenues. She had been a member of the congregation for 14 years and attended services there every Sunday since joining.

“She was a loving mother and grandmother and a friend to all,” family member Crystal Hughes said during the service. “Grace loved to have fun with the family; she was the life of the party.

“Grace had a zest for life and lived her life to the fullest and never complained.”

Hughes’ other survivors include a son, Alfred Hughes; grandson Alfred Hughes Jr.; four sisters, Virginia Vallier, Lillie Mae Ferguson, Geraldine Sailes and Marsha Hughes; five brothers, Lenard, Roger, Leroy, Samuel and Marvin; as well as many nieces, nephew and other relatives.

Hughes’ death grabbed headlines last week when Detroit firefighters responded to a May 12 fire at her house at about 1:15 a.m. and discovered her body after putting out the blaze.

Police said she suffered blunt-force trauma, several stab wounds and her body had been burned in the blaze.

Last Saturday, authorities formally charged a Detroit man, Torius Inge, 46, with a count of open murder and third-degree arson in connection with her death.

Woman squatting in childhood home ‘wouldn’t leave’

Inge is schedule to appear next in court Thursday, according to the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office.

Hughes continued to live in the two-story house long after her family had moved out and despite the fact it didn’t have any heat, light or water. Her parents had owned the home and she vowed to never leave.

Her home was slated to be demolished by the city, the effort was halted when officials learned the house was occupied.

On Saturday, photos of Hughes were displayed in the area between the pews and pulpit at Zion Hope Baptist Church for her memorial service. Organ music played in the background.

Her remains sat nearby in a copper-colored urn on a pedestal adorned with green plants and red ribbons. The urn had a small plaque on it that bore her name.

During the service, Barbara Collins, head of the church’s outreach ministry, read a resolution passed by the Detroit City Council in Hughes’ honor.

“Resolved, council member Mary Sheffield and the Detroit City Council hereby celebrate the rich life and legacy of Grace Hughes, a true example of Detroit’s resilience and a leader in our city.”

Sheffield was scheduled to attend the service and read the resolution, but was unable to make it.

Collins also recounted finding out Hughes had died and TV news crews asking her about the woman she knew for more than 40 years and had gone to church with regularly.

“They asked me to tell them something about her,” Collins said. “One thing I said about her was that I know she was in church every Sunday. I know she loved the Lord. So I come in celebration of Gracie.”

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