- Associated Press - Friday, August 21, 2015

MARLBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) - A 2-year-old Massachusetts girl who died in foster care was laid to rest Friday as the circumstances around her death remain a mystery.

Family and friends of Avalena Conway-Coxon gathered for a one-hour, private morning service at the Immaculate Conception church in Marlborough.

After the ceremony, a white, flower-covered casket was brought to an awaiting hearse. A bagpiper played “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and supporters set up a memorial of candles, flowers and photos nearby.

Officials haven’t said what killed Avalena and landed another young girl living in the home in the hospital.

The case has once again focused attention on Massachusetts’ embattled child welfare system, which faced scrutiny after state social workers in 2013 lost track of Jeremiah Oliver, a 5-year-old Fitchburg boy whose body was later found along the side of a highway.

Avalena and the second girl, who is also about 2 years old and has not been identified, were discovered unresponsive at an apartment complex in Auburn, about 45 miles west of Boston, after their foster mother called 911 early Saturday afternoon.

Avalena was pronounced dead a short time later at the hospital; the other girl survived after life-saving measures were performed. Her situation remains “dire,” Worcester District Attorney Joseph Early’s office says.

Early’s office said the police investigation is ongoing and has not yet been deemed criminal. No charges have been filed and no cause of death has been determined. Police earlier this week executed search warrants at the Auburn home and seized evidence.

Four other children who lived in the home remain in custody of the state Department of Children and Families.

The foster mother’s family has said they believe whatever happened was an accident and that the woman loved Avalena like she was her own child.

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