MOULTRIE, Ga. -- Jayla Alexander was set to graduate on May 23. Her grad gown had just been bought and her heart was set to attend either Florida State University or Valdosta State University, according to her mother, Karen. She had dreams of helping people.
But all of that is in the past tense.
Jayla was killed on Nov. 10 in what the Georgia Bureau of investigation called a drive-by shooting -- a homicide. The state organization has spent the past seven, almost eight, months investigating her case.
According to Assistant Special Agent in Charge Mike Callahan, the case is still under investigation with nothing new to release. Because of this Karen Alexander is worried her daughter is becoming a cold case.
“No one is talking to me or telling me they have a lead or whatever,” she said. “Just like she loved everybody, it seems like they should’ve had the same love for her and helped solve this case.”
Somebody knows something, Karen said. But things are taking so long. She’s still upset and still crying over the death of her daughter -- the death of her best friend. At times it seemed like people didn’t really care, she said.
“It’s easy to say that (sorry). It’s not theirs,” Karen said as she shed tears.
Jayla was a peaceful, kind and generous person who was at the wrong place at the wrong time.
Karen said Jayla had been over at the 800 block of 12th Avenue S.E. to celebrate a friend’s birthday. She didn’t know what she was running into, and even so, her mother still doesn’t understand why someone would kill her daughter.
“I understand we don’t know what our children do behind our backs, but from what everybody tells me, I had an angel,” Karen said.
Colquitt County High School, Jayla’s school, held a virtual graduate ceremony on May 23. In it, Principal Jamie Dixon spoke on missing Jayla.
As she had impacted many lives at CCHS, Dixon said he’ll always remember Jayla’s infectious smile because that’s what she showed every time he saw her.
“Jayla, the entire Packers Nation misses you dearly,” Dixon said. “We pray for peace for your family, but also rejoice in the fact of having known you. We love you.”
Dixon mentioned in his address that Jayla’s smile brightened the days of whoever came in contact with it.
It was a part of her everyday charm, Karen said.
Her death is something that will never stop stinging, Dixon said. Sometimes it will magnify, sometimes it will stay the same but you try to do what’s right.
For the school, that was giving the Alexander family a box of Jayla’s memorabilia, which included her tassel and other things that summed up her time at CCHS, Dixon said.
Karen herself remembers days when she’d get back home from working two jobs and Jayla would ask her if there’s anything she needs.
“If I had a headache when I got off that morning, she made sure everything was right for me,” she said. “Anytime I got sick and needed her, she’d come check on me every five minutes [asking] ‘Momma, you okay.’”
Karen brought together family and friends to bring graduation to her grave.
Adorning the gravesite with flowers, graduation decor and a bubble blower and planting her cap and gown next to her, friends and family stood around her grave to take graduation photos.
It was a send-off for her, but not a goodbye. Karen and the rest of Jayla’s family and friends still await her killer to be brought to justice.