JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A local family is grateful for the headstone gifted by the community and placed at their daughter's grave on Tuesday.
In early August two teens were shot to death while having a sleepover inside a Missouri Avenue home. 13-year-old Jazmine Shelton and her 14-year-old friend Megan Simmons' killer has never been caught.
Simmons' family was not able to afford a proper headstone, adding a hurdle to the long heartbreaking process of burying a daughter who was gone too soon. For months Simmons' grave was marked simply with a small white placard, but that changed on December 24. "We are here today dedicating a head stone to Megan," said Donald Foy, president of the Jacksonville chapter of Men Against Destruction Defending Against Drugs and Social Disorder (MAD DADS).
The community stepped up to raise funds so the Simmons' family could buy the grave marker they needed and together they watched as it was installed on Christmas Eve; her grandmother's birthday. "It's very hard, but this is a birthday present for me to have her headstone laid. And I think she knew that," said grandmother Karen Pippen. The installation is the final step in a long and agonizing process, a process the Simmons' family knows might not bring closure. "I just thank God it's down, but it's not going to bring her back."
The family now hopes their questions will be answered and that someday, justice will finally be served. "We just want to see this crime stop and the people who did this to these kids need to go to jail," Pippen added.
Foy wrapped up and said, "I'm making a plea to this community that you please come forward with any information that you have."
Anyone who has any information about this crime is asked to contact the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office at 904-630-0500 or email us at JSOCrimeTips@jaxsheriff.org.
To remain anonymous and receive a possible reward up to $3,000, contact First Coast Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS.
MORE COVERAGE OF THIS STORY:
8/10/13: Jacksonville Sheriff's Office investigating suspected drive-by that killed a 13-year-old in her home
8/11/13: Neighbors of 13-year-old drive-by victim speak
8/12/13: Jacksonville Sheriff's Office continues to gather evidence at Missouri Ave home where teenage girls were shot
8/12/13: Funeral arrangements set for Jazmine Shelton
8/12/13: No suspects in teen murder: another teen fights for her life
8/15/13: Second victim, Megan Simmons, in Missouri Avenue shooting died Wednesday
8/16/13: Candle light vigil for Jazmine Shelton Thursday evening
8/16/13: Jacksonville Sheriff's Office and Justice Coalition team up to find a killer
8/16/13: Families want justice for the slaying of two innocent teens
9/9/13: Slain teens' families pay it forward
9/10/13: Double homicide marks one month unsolved
9/25/13: Balloon release planned for double shooting victims
10/2/13: Remembering those lost during a violent summer
12/10/13: Victims' families press public for information
First Coast News