JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A beloved Jacksonville preschool teacher whose death last year was initially thought to be a suicide was actually murdered by her boyfriend, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.
Aunesty Hite's coworkers at Calvary Christian Junior Academy said they couldn't believe the 20-year-old would take her own life when she was found shot last July.
"We thought, 'No. Aunesty, she was too happy,'" Acneris Sobrado said.
Jacksonville police now say it was Hite's boyfriend, 27-year-old Sean Lovins, who fired the fatal shot. He is charged with second-degree murder.
“We were all in shock (after learning of the arrest). We were just completely numb,” Calvary Assistant Director Meagan Banks said. “It’s like finding out all over again.”
According to his arrest warrant, Lovins told police Hite shot herself while he was asleep, but the medical examiner found gunshot residue on Lovins' left hand and no gunshot residue at all on Hite -- ruling her death a murder.
Hite's ex-husband posted to Facebook, saying that he hopes justice will be swift and that Hite is never forgotten.
Her coworkers said they think of Hite every day. A memorial remains at the preschool in her honor.
“I just try to remember how positive she was," Shannon Cote said. "I just remember that if she was having a bad day, she wouldn’t really show it to anyone."
Hite's coworkers said she was lovable, energetic, personal and is missed by all.
"She was our morning coffee, basically," Sobrado said. "It was very contagious, her happiness."
They said she lit up the room and the children at the school loved her.
“She was constantly laughing and goofing off and playing with the kids," Gywn Wages said.
Lovins will be back in court next month for his arraignment.
A GoFundMe account was set up last year to help Hite's family with expenses.