September 11 is a date many people associate with the 2001 tragedy resulting from terrorist attacks in the US. But friends and family of Kiara Alleyne remember a different tragedy – her murder.
In 2019, 20-year-old Alleyne, originally from Point Fortin, was found murdered in her Ocala, Florida home. The mother of one had recently migrated and began a job as a nursing assistant.
Her boyfriend Deangelo Clark, 32, has since been arrested and charged with second-degree murder, but pleaded guilty in the ongoing court case. He was also denied bail.
Moments before Kiara was pronounced dead, Clark had posted a series of statuses on Facebook expressing his frustration, and in one of those, he apologised for “what he just did” to Kiara.
The autopsy revealed she was stabbed to death.
Police had also said Clark video-called Kiara's father, Sheldon, on FaceTime during the act, allowing him to see his bleeding child and to hear her screams. Sheldon had said he heard her daughter screaming, “He has the knife.”
Clark then fled with their one-year-old daughter and police issued an amber alert which was cancelled after the child was found, unharmed, with a family member. She is now in Sheldon’s care and he fondly calls her Nana.
Clarke was later found and detained in Monroe County after fleeing Marion County.
One year later, the pain remains the same for her parents.
Her mother, Vanessa, told Newsday the past year has been very difficult, but it is a strong support system and faith in God that keeps her going.
"It is a feeling that will never ever leave – to have your child taken away from you, which is unfair. It's a feeling I don't think anyone will know unless they experience it. It's one thing to have a child that's sick or was involved in an accident, but when you lose a child...A part of you is gone."
She said many people, locally and internationally, check in and pray for her often. She said her daughter was "loved by everybody."
Kiara's father said he continues to ask himself “a million whys."
In a Facebook post on Friday, Sheldon said, “I saw you come into this world and unfortunately, I saw you taken out of it. So much I wanna say, so much (sic) sacrifices made for you to live your best life, some you (had) just begun to understand and acknowledge but all that for what now?
“Most days I don’t even know what to say, I don’t know what to do…I was and have always been there to give and protect you and the one time you needed me I should have been there for you but God knows best Kiara. I hope and pray in your last moments you did get enough time to talk to the master.”
He said his heart doesn’t hurt anymore – his soul does.
“(Your daughter) should have you and your love. I can only give her so much but your motherly love is so missing from her tender heart. I don’t even know what to say anymore about it like frankly I look at my front door sometimes and think you’re gonna ring the bell and just walk through the door. I just love you Kiara and one year later it doesn’t feel any better. In fact, today feels like it just happened so you RIP. God and I will continue this fight. I love you, my child.”
Speaking with Newsday, one of Kiara’s closest friends – Kyle Crichlow – said he, too, feels the same grief a year later.
He said, “Every time I think about her, which is almost every day, it's like a replay of mixed emotions happening all over again from since that day. I miss her every day, sometimes I have to remind myself of fact that's she's really gone because it's still unbelievable.”
Keagon Smith, also a friend, said, "It's still surreal to me that she is actually gone. You never really expect to lose a friend so young. She was extremely energetic and charismatic and always brought joy to her friends and loved ones.
"She had so much love. It hurts that she isn't here anymore. It's sad that she had to go the way she did. And it hurts to know that (her daughter) has to go grow up without Kiara."
Another friend, Ezra Sutherland told Newsday he only remotely began grieving less in January, but the pain remains.
“There are many times I will think about her, reminisce on past memories…I’m very close to her family so I’m always by her mom and grandmother’s house. There is like my second home and many times I get flashback memories of when she was alive.
“We shared a very close friendship. I was the one who taught her how to ride a bike. One memory I will never forget is when her mom was not home, we would always take a little drink out of her mother’s Bailey’s (rum).”
He said Kiara was like his sister, adding that he recently dreamt of her.
“…and in the dream, she asked me to take care of her mom and her daughter and I made a promise to her. So this is something I will have to live with till the day I die.”
He said he, along with other friends and family, will be visiting her grave in Point Fortin on Friday evening.
Kiara was laid to rest on September 27, 2019 at the Cap-de-Ville Cemetery.