In an exclusive interview, Carina Saunders' father, Richard, talks to News 9 after months of staying silent.
Tuesday marked what would have been the 20th birthday of Carina Saunders. Richard opened up as family members and friends gathered at an Oklahoma City restaurant to celebrate Carina's life.
The Mustang teen's dismembered body was found behind a Bethany grocery store last October. That is where the nightmare for the Saunders family started, and it is still not over.
"I deal with the pain as best I can," Carina's father Richard said.
Richard has yet to give any reaction to the recent arrest in his daughter's murder case. He is also continuing to stay silent on the investigation. But, talking about his daughter's life puts a smile on his face.
"[Carina] was always full of smiles and joy," Richard said. "She was probably one of the most giddy kids you would have ever seen in your life."
Family members and friends did not want to be on camera during the birthday celebration, but Richard says they have all worked hard to make something very special possible.
"Hopefully, this will be something that will help carry on the legacy of Carina Saunders and help somebody in the near future," Richard said.
The Saunders family used the special day to donate $4,000 to the Make A Wish Foundation. The money comes from fundraisers held in Carina's honor.
"[The Saunders family is] going to help other families that are struggling," Kandy Hadley with the foundation said.
Richard says giving back helps with the grieving process.
"To give something like this to somebody who may need it helps," Richard said. "I might come up with something different, and maybe next year we can do this again."
The $4,000 donation will stay right here in Oklahoma. In early July, police arrested Luis Ruiz for Carina's murder. Prosecutors have not yet filed charges against him.