JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A Jacksonville mother is asking the community to help find her daughter's killer seven years after she was shot and killed in a drive-by on the city's Westside.
The March 20, 2010 drive-by shooting claimed the life of 16-year-old Tiphne Hollis. The case still has not been solved.
Mayor Lenny Curry's office declared this week Tiphne D. Hollis Week, and her family held a walk in her memory late Monday afternoon in the neighborhood where she was gunned down.
Tiphne's mother, Shanda Whitaker-Ward, said she believes someone out there knows exactly who killed her daughter, and she hasn't lost hope that someday she will know too.
"I'm just doing what a mother is supposed to be doing," Whitaker-Ward said.
She wants people to remember Tiphne and created the Tiphne Dar'shay Hollis Foundation in her honor. She also wants to remind people that the case has not been solved, and her daughter deserves a resolution.
"I stay hopeful. I stay prayed up. I have faith and I truly believe that we are going to find justice here on Earth," Whitaker-Ward said.
She remembers Tiphne as an angel who got her wings too soon.
"This is my Tiphne. When I see her, I just think about, ‘What if she was here?'" said Whitaker-Ward, who has been fighting for answers in her daughter's killing since the day she died.
Whitaker-Ward has marched on the 20th of every month since the shooting occurred and has been joined by family, friends and supporters in hopes of turning up new leads in the case.
That crusade continued Monday, seven years to the day since Tiphne was killed, as the mother was joined by nearly 40 people in chants -- some in prayer and in celebration of the teen who made her mother proud.
Whitaker-Ward said it also makes her proud that the city recognized Tiphne D. Hollis Week, and that something good may come from seven years of suffering.
"This situation, if it's not helping get justice for Tiphne, it's helping another mother to fight for their child. And, hopefully, they will get justice for their child," she said.
Tiphne was described by her mother as a quiet but friendly girl who loved fashion and children. A school and day care center was renamed in her memory.
"She was everything a mother would want in a child. She was a good little 16-year-old girl. Everybody loved her," Whitaker-Ward said.
For the still-grieving mother, the fight for justice is far from over. She said she has no intention of letting go of the effort to solve the case, no matter how long it takes.
"I will never forget. I will always miss my daughter. I just want the boys who did this to be accountable," Whitaker-Ward said.
There is a $15,000 reward being offered in the case.
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