A community came together Saturday from all corners of Durham to support the family of a slain Jordan High School student and to say no to more violence.
Friends and family wore purple T-shirts – Hall’s favorite color – with “#Justice for Tierra Hall” written in pink.
Tierra Hall, 17, was fun-loving, free-spirited and generous, friends said at a vigil at Vintage Church on Garrett Road.
Durham resident Chauntia May said she was connected to Hall because their mothers worked together, but she felt like she had known her.
May shared a statement from Hall’s close friend Mya, about the girls’ many adventures, from relaxing together in front of the TV to matching their outfits, sprinting in laughter through the school halls and sharing “private jokes that made them look at us like we were crazy.”
“Since the day I found out you were gone, I felt the urge to tell people about you, because I want them to get how I feel,” May read. “More so, it’s a (empty) feeling in my chest, because I know I’ll never meet anyone like you again.”
The crowd of several dozen then moved to the parking lot, where they signed a dozen purple and silver balloons and released them, shouting, “We love you, Tierra.”
The wind, changing direction, sent them floating toward Jordan High School and the family’s home.
Hall’s mother, Koteya Hall, spoke through her tears, before being enveloped in hugs and well-wishers.
“Thank you everybody from the bottom of my heart,” she said. “You have no idea what this has done for me. It has been a source of strength in this tragic time, and I appreciate every single last one of you.”
Hall was killed March 27 after leaving the school’s campus with her ex-boyfriend Kelton Breshon Fox. Her body was found the next day behind a vacant house on nearby Trotter Ridge Road, about 3 miles from her home on Garrett Road.
Fox, 17, has been charged with first-degree murder, accused of stabbing Hall several times. He is being held in the Durham County jail without bail. If convicted, he could face life in prison.
The mourners also prayed for Fox and his family. Anger can be “all-consuming fire,” said the Rev. Rob Womack of Watts Street Baptist Church, who led the service.
“(Fox’s) mother grieves, as well,” he said. “We pray for the softening of hearts, which make such acts possible, and we pray for the comforting of wounded hearts that weep tears for another son lost to violence.”
Police have not disclosed a possible motive for the killing or said whether they had found a weapon. Tierra Hall and Fox had dated on and off until Hall broke it off in December, her mother said.
Surveillance footage from the school and a Trotter Ridge Road home showed the teens together several times on March 27, when they left the school around 12:25 p.m. and as they walked down the street.
The footage shows Fox returning to school alone about a half-hour later with his hands pulled into his sleeves. He is seen visiting a bathroom, before calling his mother from the school office and leaving around 2:07 p.m., warrants state. Detectives later found blood near a bathroom sink.
Hall’s mother has said there were no signs that her daughter might be in an abusive relationship, although Hall told her Fox was “too clingy” when asked about the breakup.
Her daughter was planning to attend N.C. Central University and major in business, her mother said, so she could run her own business someday.
The vigil for Hall was different from most and came together quickly, said Marcia Owen, director of the Religious Coalition for a Nonviolent Durham and a member of the Durham chapter of Parents of Murdered Children, which hosted the vigil in cooperation with Vintage Church.
“The reason we’re having this vigil so close to her death,” Owen said, “is because her mother so graciously said, because the funeral will be in Texas and this is spring break ... this gives an opportunity for the community and for friends to gather and to grieve together.”
Hall’s friends have raised $7,410 through a GoFundMe site (nando.com/142) to help her family pay funeral expenses.