EVANS, Ga. (WJBF) — After a week of grief and heartache, friends and family gathered to say goodbye to 20-year-old Brenleigh Kitchens — a woman they will remember as a bright, shining light.
“You could not walk into a room with Brenleigh and not fall in love with her,” Citrus Lopez, Kitchens’ friend said.
“It was just inevitable that when you saw her, you were going to smile and laugh,” Shelby Freeman adds.
Kitchens was killed last week in her home in Hephzibah. Her ex- boyfriend, 20-year-old Jaden Ross, was arrested shortly after and charged with Murder, Aggravated Assault and Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Crime.
“I miss her like crazy,” Loren Woodruff Kitchens, Kitchens’ mother, says. “I want her back.”
“She didn’t deserve this,” Lopez adds. “You just don’t know when it can happen or who it can happen to.”
Kitchens’ loved ones held each other close as they said goodbye to the Lakeside High School graduate Friday, passing out sunflowers which symbolized how bright she shined in their lives.
“I just want her to be remembered as a fighter, hero and light in everyone’s life,” Freeman says.
Kitchens’ mother hopes her daughter’s death can be the beginning of something positive. She is starting a nonprofit organization, called Brenleigh Lives, to educate teens and their parents about dating violence and abusive relationships.
“We have to teach these kids to be able to talk to their parents,” Kitchens says. “If something feels funny in their gut, then it is funny and they need to tell somebody. That’s a sign. They need to know there’s protection for them. They need to know signs to protect themselves.”
It is her way of keeping Kitchens’ memory alive.
“That’s what Brenleigh would want. If she can save another life, then let’s do it. I’m all for it.”
Kitchens’ mother is selling “Brenleigh Lives” t-shirts. To buy one, please call (706) 834-0284.