Father: Daughter’s funeral ‘was the hardest thing I’ve ever done’

Cheyenne Hyer had a love for horses.
Cheyenne Hyer had a love for horses.

Three-year-old Cheyenne Hyer was laid to rest Wednesday in a private ceremony in Jacksonville, Florida.

“It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” her father, Ryan Hyer, said. “It was horrible seeing her laying in a casket like that. It was like the world just stopped.”

A small white casket, adorned with shading in Cheyenne’s favorite pink color. A colorful flower arrangement with pink roses rested on it.

On a table at the funeral home sat a couple of character figurines from Cheyenne’s favorite movie, “Frozen,” and the service included a time for reflection while her favorite song, “Let it Go,” played. Pictures of Cheyenne alone, or with her father or others, also sat on display.

“Daddy’s lil angel” was written on one set of pictures taped to posters and messages such as “RIP baby girl” were written in memory of Cheyenne.

Cheyenne died Sept. 30 after her mother, fired Long Beach police officer Cassie Barker, left her in the back of a patrol car for nearly five hours. Barker had stopped at the home of one of her then-supervisors, Sgt. Clark Ladner, to visit when she says she went inside and fell asleep. Barker was arrested on a charge of manslaughter in Cheyenne’s death. She has been released on a $50,000 bond.

Cheyenne was buried at Chapel Hills Memorial Gardens. Hyer did not publicize the service or publish an obituary because he feared Barker would show up. He had authorities in Jacksonville provide security.

Hyer placed pictures of himself with his daughter in the casket with her and his girlfriend placed a set of Catholic rosary beads beside her. His girlfriend had gotten the beads when she was child.

The service ended with the Lord’s Prayer.

“She was such a happy litte girl,” Hyer said. “The whole world was in front of her. Nothing could get her down. She was just happy.”

Hancock County deputies are heading up the investigation into the child’s death. Cheyenne was still strapped in her car seat when her mother found her unresponsive and ran back into Ladner’s home to tell him something was wrong.

Barker had left her patrol car running and the air conditioner on, but the temperature setting was more toward the heat position and the fan was set on low. Cheyenne’s body temperature was 107 degrees when she arrived at Hancock Medical Center.

Investigators believe Barker has left the state, a concern for investigators who believe her bond was set too low because they considered her a flight risk.

Margaret Baker: 228-896-0538, @Margar45