Family and friends gather to honor life of Shaquita Smith

By Chris Robbins - Producer , Ashley Harding - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Family and friends gathered on the Westside Sunday night to remember and honor the life of a woman found dead in a ditch.

On Friday, police were called to the 7400 block of Ricker Road in reference to a suspicious death. The body of Shaquita Anne Smith, 29, was found in a ditch. Police believe her body was there for a few days before she was found. 

On Sunday, family members crossed the street at Park City Drive. They carried with them balloons and flowers to lay at the site where the young mother of two was found.

Police have stayed tight-lipped about the details surrounding her death. Family members say Smith had moved to Jacksonville less than a year ago from Arkansas.
Hours after Smith's family had their own vigil for her, they were joined by several residents from the neighborhood. The group held candles, wrote special notes on signs, and joined hands for a prayer. Crystal Kauffman organized it.

""I am so sorry for your loss. It touched me deeply."

Kauffman and other neighbors hope to see more lights added to the stretch of road, in honor of Smith. Smith's family members believe if there had been more lights, someone may have seen something that night.           

"By the grace of God, I pray and hope they catch you and we're going to be there. I'm going to be there from top to bottom," Dillon said.

Reginald Dillon, Smith's heartbroken uncle, fought back tears as he described the violent death of his niece.

"When I close my eyes I think about how she was submerged in the water in that ditch. Just submerged in that ditch."

"She really didn't deserve this. The family is blown to pieces about this."

Family members said Smith was reported missing after she failed to return home from a late walk. They described her as a kind, humble young woman, the kind of person who could make friends with anyone. They said her life revolved around her two little girls.

"What are you going to tell these kids? How do you tell a kid that mommy is not coming home? How do you tell a kid that? Mommy's gone," Dillon said.   

If anyone has any information about Smith's murder, they call asked to call Crime Stoppers at 866-845-TIPS.

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