Family and friends mourn loss of murdered Columbia woman

Family and friends of the 19-year-old shot to death near Blythewood last Friday held a vigil Tuesday evening to remember her life

RICHLAND COUNTY, S.C. (WOLO) – Family and friends of 19-year-old Deanndra Roach, shot to death near Blythewood last Friday, held a vigil Tuesday evening to remember her life.

Dozens came together to mourn her loss, and talk about the greater issues at play with her death. Roach’s ex-boyfriend, 22-year-old Andre Heatley, has been charged with her murder. He was captured on surveillance cameras shortly after her murder, using her debit card. The Richland County Sheriff’s Department is handling the investigation.

Pastor Ivory Thigpen watched Roach grow up, as a member of the youth ministry, at Rehoboth Baptist Church. He described Roach as kind, respectful and loving.

“No one can prepare for this day, no one can expect this day,” Thigpen said, “so I solicit the prayers of anyone who believes in a God, that would help and insist and heal them from a tremendous loss.”

Roach was known as “Dee Dee” by those closest to her. She was a recent graduate from Blythewood High School. The teen’s body was found lying in a field next to her car off Farrow Road near Blythewood Friday.

After the tragedy, distant relative, Chandra Cleveland-Jennings, who happens to be a victims’ advocate, was interviewed about teen dating violence by a different media outlet. She did not realize who the victim actually was until she got home.

“It was so real,” she said.

Soon after, Cleveland-Jennings says the family learned that Deanndra’s friends knew she was being abused.

“We knew nothing about it,” she said. “Her mom knew nothing about it, so it was, it’s very painful.”

Those who Deanndra leaves behind, want to turn pain into progress.

“She will forever live with a purpose, and we will make sure of that, by talking about it everywhere we can, to make sure that this doesn’t happen to any other young girl,” Cleveland-Jennings said.

The Violence Policy Center ranks South Carolina first among states for women murdered by men. If you or someone you know if a victim of domestic violence, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline right now. Its advocates are available 24/7 at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

The Roach family is raising money to pay for their daughter’s funeral costs. You can donate to the cause by clicking, here.

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