Life hasn’t been the same for the girls since their father, Officer Thomas Cottrell, died in January, shot by a man accused of going out one night to kill a cop.
But Courtney, Brooklyn and Alycia Cottrell felt like their dad was “watching over us” over the weekend as they went to their homecoming dance escorted by two of their father’s colleagues in uniform from the Danville, Ohio, police department.
“Those girls were his life,” the girls’ mother, Anna Montgomery, told WSYX/WTTE in Columbus, Ohio. “He always said, ‘Those are daddy’s princesses.’
“It made them feel a little more like daddy was there.”
Montgomery told ABC News that she asked one of the officers whether he could take the girls to the dance, and before she knew it, they “just ran with it,” giving the girls the full princess treatment.
Officers Mark Perkins and Josh Abshire decided they would be the girls’ stand-in father for the night. They posed for photos with the girls and their dates. They drove them in patrol cars — one had their father’s patrol number on the back — to dinner and the dance, then waited at the school to take them all safely home.
At dinner, the officers pulled an extra chair to the table and left it empty for the girls’ father, “so ... he was there with us,” Perkins told ABC.
Perkins, a father of four, said he would like to think his colleagues would have done the same for him.
“I told them, and I told their mother, the pleasure was all ours, to be able to do that and to share that with all of them was pretty special,” Perkins told ABC.
The girls had a blast, their mother said, even though there were a couple of times that tears got the best of them.
“He may not be physically with us, but he’s in our hearts — that’s all that counts,” Courtney said of her father.
The man accused of shooting and killing their father on the night of Jan. 17 is scheduled to face a jury trial in November. Herschel R. Jones III is charged with two counts of aggravated murder, among other charges. If found guilty he faces the death penalty.