This online memorial was created in loving memory of Leah Freeman, whose life story is told throughout this memorial website. Please sign Leah 's guest book and let us know you came to visit. We will remember Leah forever.
On October 29, 1984 Leah Nicole Freeman was born to Cory Courtright and Denny Freeman. She already had an older sister, Denise, who adored her all of her life. Very close sisters.
Leah was just your average teen. She was cute, little, funny, and so full of life. She had a laugh that no one could ever forget. She had her close circle of friends, but everyone liked Leah. There really wasn’t anything not to like about her. She loved to eat!! Thanksgiving was one of Leah's favorite holidays. She loved the elderly. She always thought little old people were the cutest. Leah attended Coquille High School her freshman year where she enjoyed participating in volleyball, basketball, and running track. She was very athletic.
Leah also enjoyed just being with her friends and riding around with her sister, Denise. They could always think of a reason they needed the car! She also loved swimming, jogging, and her cat, Bailey. Leah wanted to someday be a hairdresser or a Physical Education teacher. Who was Leah Freeman?
Leah lives in memories of family, friends
She was a streak of lightning who could steal a basketball from opposing players.
She was short, opinionated, funny, feisty and energetic.
"It kills me that all the things that I have now - a husband, kid - she never got to have," said Jennifer Trosper, Leah Freeman's childhood friend.
"She's a human being and, nowadays, she's just the subject of a story."
More than 10 years after someone mysteriously killed the 15-year-old, family and friends shared memories of Leah's life and girlish antics to help the community remember she is not just a victim.
"She was a real live person, and somebody took that away from everyone," Trosper said.
One of Terry Middleton's favorite memories of her niece goes back to Leah's first-grade year.
Middleton, who works in food services for the Coquille School District, said she often would recruit first-graders to help stack dishes at lunch time. Her helpers each were outfitted with rubber gloves and aprons.
"Of course, Leah loved it. She wanted to be in there all the time," Middleton recalled.
One day, while Middleton served food to students, she turned and saw her tiny blond niece with a thumb stuffed in her mouth - she had ripped off the rubber thumb from one of her gloves but left the rest intact.
"She got to work and ‘thuck' her thumb at the ‘thame' time," Middleton joked.
"I laughed. It was just the cutest thing. That thumb was very important to her."
All of Middleton's sisters, including Leah's mother, Cory Courtright, giggled at the memory as they sat in Courtright's living room last week.
They said Leah sucked her thumb up into her teen years but did her best to hide it.
"I think everybody has their little idiosyncrasies," said sister-in-law Rosemary Courtright.
When it comes to Leah, the statement holds true.
She often walked into sliding glass doors. Her favorite color was pink. Despite being a bit of a tomboy, Leah constantly primped herself.
"She would put lipstick on and kiss the mirrors," Cory Courtright said.
"She had them all over the mirror. You couldn't hardly see yourself."
When the family moved into Leah's grandparents' home in Coquille, Courtright said her daughter would bounce around the living room trying to make them laugh.
She would cartwheel into Middleton's home, climb into her uncle Bill's arms and play skin the cat. Leah also loved to hide whenever they came over.
"I'd pretend like I didn't see her, and then she would jump on my back," Bill Middleton said. Leah even did it in her teens.
"She would make us all laugh," Bill Middleton said. "She just had a lot of energy - spunky little girl."
A bang of a stunt
One Christmas Eve, Leah cut off her older sister's bangs.
That night, as the whole family geared up for a feast, Leah and sister Denise said they wanted to run home.
A half hour later, Middleton noticed Denise wearing a stocking cap down to her eyebrows.
"Leah came in behind all meek and mild and slithered up the stairway," she recalled.
"Denise would not take that hat off for nothing," Courtright added.
She already had seen the damage. Worse, both girls were getting perms for Christmas.
"‘You can't get a rod in that, Denise'," Cory Courtright recalled saying.
‘My first wreck'
Although Leah never got a learner's permit, her mother once convinced her to back her car out of a driveway.
Instead, she struck her grandmother's car, which crushed a workbench.
"She just sat there, and her eyes were this big around, and she said, ‘Oh my God, Mom, I had my first wreck.'"
Aside from her bubbly personality and quirky sense of humor, Leah excelled in basketball and volleyball. Her aptitude at school sports is one thing many friends, family members and coaches easily recall.
Debbie Erler, mother of one of Leah's close friends, said she remembers Leah best from basketball and team sleepovers.
"What a team they were, often placing first or second in their league," Erler wrote in an e-mail to The World.
‘Our secret weapon'
"Leah was our secret weapon. She was so small, players from other teams deemed her a non-threat.
"But Leah was a streak of lightning on the court, and she could steal a ball before anyone (could) even seen her coming, and she was back at the other end of the court before they knew what happened."
Trosper, who sat next to Leah at their preschool graduation and played on her team at Coquille Valley Middle School, said Leah had a unique free throw: She would shoot with two hands with all her might and would often make a basket.
"She was frickin' awesome. She was probably one of the fastest ones on the team," said Trosper, 25.
Played for keeps
Dan Hermann, Leah's basketball coach for fourth, fifth and sixth grades, named her most valuable player in 1996. That year, they won the league championship.
Leah took the game seriously.
"She was out there to win," he said of his starting point guard.
"She would have been an all-league player in school. She was very talented."
Trosper, who now lives in North Bend, said she grew apart from Leah as they got older, but she still thinks of her - and her death - often.
"I can't comprehend how anybody could do that," Trosper said.
"It's just something that stuck with me and will stick with me forever."
Life without Leah
Erler remembers the summer day her daughter told her Leah had disappeared and recalls the months and years that followed.
"I know that as Leah's friends move through their lives with college, love, marriage and children, they, like Leah's family, cannot help but wonder at each stage, where Leah would be right now," Erler said.
"What would she have done after graduation? Who would she have fallen in love with and married?
"And would her little girl be (a) streak of lightning on the basketball court just like her?"
Denise Freeman, Step Mother
John and Dorothy Courtright
Don and Clara Freeman
Aunts and Uncles
Terry and Bill Middleton
Rich and Carrie Ann Shields
Rich and Dian Courtright
Patty and Al Peake
Nieces and Nephews