Family, friends, and community members joined together Sunday night to celebrate the life of Janiya Thomas. Janiya is the 11-year-old girl who was found dead in a freezer.
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In October of 2015, the young girl was tragically murdered, allegedly by her mother, Keishanna Thomas. Documents showed she was abused, starved, and stuffed into a cardboard box in a freezer.
"We are celebrating today to let everyone know that Janiya did not die in vain," said community member Sherry Douglas, leading prayer at Lincoln Park. Through prayer and song, the Palmetto community continues to heal after the tragic murder of the 11-year-old.
"Tonight we just want to celebrate Janiya’s life and let the world know that we are not going to forget about Janiya," said Wayne Washington, Janiya's cousin. "We want to let the community know that she is loved and that her memory will always live on."
The group remembering the beautiful child whose life was taken too soon.
"We need to start listening to one another, instead of talking about one another, we need to listen because this could have been avoided," said community member, Ronald James.
Janiya was missing for a year before her body was discovered. Washington says it's something that needs to be talked about. "It’s opened up a conversation about abuse that’s going on in the home," said Washington. "It’s also made us call family to check up on family members, with her being gone that long and nobody noticed, it kinda of threw everybody off."
Sunday's celebration of life shows although Janiya may be gone, her memory remains strong.
Keishanna Thomas was indicted by a grand jury in 2015 on charges of first degree murder, abuse of a dead body, and aggravated child abuse.