Funeral crowd watches Otto Warmbier's final happy moments

In first official response to student's death, North Korea says Warmbier's passing after return to United States is a "mystery" On June 23, the North Korean government released its first official response to the death of Otto Warmbier, an American student detained by the North who returned to the United States in a coma and died just six days later.

Otto Warmbier's brother, sister and friends were scheduled to speak at the funeral Thursday in his hometown of Wyoming, near Cincinnati.

"It doesn't really feel real yet".

Speaking early today to assembled reporters across the street from Wyoming High School, US Senator Rob Portman of OH highlighted the community support that the Warmbier family has received during the tragedy.

"The family chose, rightfully so, not to share that information while he was in captivity... because they didn't want to embarrass (North Korea) by explaining that he actually was Jewish" and would not have been affiliated with the church", he said. Warmbier's family objected to an autopsy, so the Hamilton County coroner's office conducted only an external examination of his body and is still trying to determine his cause of death.

His next videos would show him begging for his life - "Think of my family!" he sobbed - as he was tried and convicted of subversion, for allegedly stealing a propaganda banner as a souvenir.

"He was my soul mate on so many levels and I truly believe that he helped me become a better human being, the person that I am today", Alex Vagonis told a group of students Tuesday at the University of Virginia, from where Warmbier would have graduated this year.

North Korea reportedly told a USA official that Otto contracted botulism and slipped intothe coma after taking a sleeping pill.

After he returned to OH, doctors determined he had suffered a "severe neurological injury" of unknown cause.

It was his life that held mourners' attention as they fondly remembered a spirited student-athlete who was socially magnetic and had a positive impact on the people around him, whether it was in class, at a swim club or in his travels.

Local media said about 2,500 people well-wishers lined up outside the school's arts center to pay respects to Warmbier.

Steve Thomas, his former soccer coach, says he was a key player who had a deep commitment to reaching out to people. "He did things because he wanted to do them". "This is the end of one great show, but just the beginning to hundreds of new spin-offs", read a quote from Warmbier's graduation speech included in the programme.

"We clicked instantly and the whirlwind of our growing relationship just took off from there", she said.