Jimmie Alston remembers waking up around 10pm or 11pm. on New Year’s Eve, when he saw his 18-year-old daughter, Jaelynn, leave their apartment in southern Phoenix.
He never imagined it would be the last time he ever saw her alive.
It was not unusual for her to come and go as she liked for the odd hours. She had always been an independent person and that independence grew when she turned 18 on December 18.
He often tracked his daughter via Facebook, checking her status and sending her messages from time to time for check-in.
“I forget the day I spoke to her,” Jimmie told the Republic of Arizona. “I called her, she said ‘Hey dad.’ I said “Where are you?” He said “Hey dad, what are you doing to check me? I am now 18. “
The two laughed, knowing that his new adulthood didn’t stop them from keeping in close contact.
He stopped replying to his messages on January 5. Jimmie said it was not as if Jaelynn ignored his messages for a long period of time, nor had she ever disappeared.
A sinking sensation became more and more imposing as the days passed without an answer from his daughter.
Jimmie filed a report on missing persons on January 9, hoping that officers would find his daughter alive and well.
“It makes me feel helpless,” said Jimmie Alston about the death of his daughter Jaelynn. “As if I couldn’t help my baby.” (Photo: Nick Oza)
Instead, Jaelynn was found dead a week later in an office building in west Phoenix. Cleaners reported that an unpleasant odor came from a room inside the building and Jaelynn was found to have serious injuries to multiple parts of his body.
The man who rented the room in which Jaelynn’s body was found is considered a person of interest, although Phoenix police have not identified him since Tuesday evening.
Dad begs the killer: “Transform”
Jimmie asked anyone involved in the death of his daughter to admit their guilt and face the consequences.
“I pray they transform,” said Jimmie. “Deliver yourself for what they did. Because you hurt a lot of people right now. It was foolish.”
But Jimmie said he doesn’t hate anyone, not even the person involved in the death of his daughter.
“I’m not hateful to anyone,” said Jimmie. “Even the person who did this. I’m very, very hurt. I love you, but I’m hurt. Really hurt.”
Jaelynn loved scary movies and helping people
Jimmie said Jaelynn has been watching scary movies since he was 3 years old. He remembered being asleep when he woke up to a 6-year-old girl screaming in terror.
She was watching “A Nightmare on Elm Street” despite her father warning her not to watch horror movies. But the accident failed to scare her from the genre.
Jaelynn celebrated his 18th birthday by watching “A Quiet Place” – one of the birthday presents he had received – with his family.
Jimmie said Jaelynn has always enjoyed helping people and plans to study to become a nurse at Gateway Community College. Her older sister, Jimyesha, recently became a certified nursing assistant.
Community vigil scheduled
Jaelynn’s family is planning a community vigil for Friday 6:30 pm at Life Changers Global Ministries on 4628 S. 7th Street in Phoenix. Anyone is welcome on the eve.
The family plans to host a second vigil at 18:30. January 30 near 43rd Avenue and Indian School Road, where Jaelynn’s body was found, to ask anyone involved in his death to surrender himself.
Join the journalist Perry Vandell at Perry.Vandell@gannett.com or on Twitter @PerryVandell.
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