Community remembers murdered Sumter Co. girl, 16, while cops search for her killer

Aleaya Jackson, WESH Images

SUMTER COUNTY, Fla. —It was an emotional night for the loved ones of a local teen who was found dead last week.

Loved ones gathered to remember Aleaya Jackson a week after her death.

The community united to remember Jackson.

On Wednesday night, her family and friends prayed together.

Her classmates stood side by side, comforting one another.

Jackson’s parents lit a candle in her memory.

RELATED: Deputies searching for man suspected of murdering Bushnell girl, 16

Her father said his daughter had a bright personality.

“When you have a bad day, she’d turn your frown into a smile, your heartaches into joy,” said Michael Jenkins, the victim’s father.

Investigators said Jackson was beaten, sexually assaulted and killed in Bushnell.

The suspect was identified as Larry Peavy, 35. Jackson’s mother said he was a family friend.

“What he did to my child is unthinkable. I don’t even want to imagine what she went through, and I want to watch him suffer,” said Nicoyle Jackson, the victim’s mother.

Investigators are still searching for Peavy, and at Wednesday’s vigil, the pastor made a plea for information.

The pastor also called on the community to support Jackson’s family and help them find peace as they wait for justice.

Peavy’s car was found in Fort Pierce where his sister lives. He faces multiple charges including murder, kidnapping and sexual assault.

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