A year after 20-year-old Jaleayah Davis was found along Interstate 77, family and friends remembered and mourned her death Monday night.
The young woman's body was found on the side of I-77 near the Emerson Avenue exit on Nov. 19, 2011, two-tenths of a mile from her car. Davis sustained traumatic injuries after apparently being struck by a vehicle, according to Wood County sheriff's deputies.
About 30 people attended a candlelight vigil at 6 p.m. along the Ohio River in Marietta to honor the young woman. Not many words were spoken, but a sadness showed on the faces of those holding candles by the gazebo along Ohio Street.
Taubianna Davis, left, sister of the late Jaleayah Davis, rests her head on the shoulder of Kimberly Davis, the mother of both girls, during a candlelight vigil at a gazebo on Ohio Street in Marietta.
Special the Times
Jeff Baughan Special to the times
Makayla Marrow, Taylor Reynolds, Katy Biehl and Joelle Loeber, left to right, watch and listen to the candlelight vigil for Jaleayah Davis Monday evening.
Ali Strahler, vigil organizer and one of Davis' best friends, said she had the idea for a vigil to help the family on the anniversary of Davis' death.
"She was one of my best friends," said Strahler. "I thought we could gather as a community (in memory of her)."
Strahler said she had been close with Davis, of Marietta, even though her friend was a few years older, throughout their high school years. She knew the family well, including Jaleayah's sister Taubi Davis, she said.
"She was just so pretty and happy spirited," Strahler said of her friend. "She was unfairly taken away from us."
Strahler said the fact a lot of people showed up was a great way to honor Davis.
"I thought we could gather by the river in her hometown as a whole," said Stahler. "I wanted to think of a positive way to recognize her."
Taubi Davis attended the vigil for her sister. She said it was sweet of the friends to arrange such a great remembrance for Jaleayah.
"I didn't really expect anyone to do anything," said Taubi. "I knew it was going to be a hard day for my family."
Taubi said she and her sister shared many of the same friends and she was touched at their acknowledgement of a community in search of answers and justice. She said the family lived in Williamstown until her junior year of high school and Jaleayah's senior year, when they moved to Marietta.
"They were open to us," she said. "Even being new."
Taubi said on the 19th of every month friends and members of the community reach out to the Davis family to show their support.
"They were really nice; it was really sweet," she said of the embracing city.
Police arrested Ember S. Stafford, 27, of Marietta, in connection with the case on Nov. 1. Stafford was arrested on charges of being a fugitive from justice and falsely reporting an emergency incident, the day before Davis would have been 21 years old.
Police are investigating her death.