Family and friends of a Youngstown woman who was found murdered in Niagara Falls, New York last summer gathered Tuesday to remember her on her birthday.
Anvia Mickens would have turned 29 years old today, June 26.
Her boyfriend, JeShawn Elliott, was arrested and charged with the crime.
Mickens’ body was found in the trunk of Elliott’s car in August of 2017. Police say he murdered her in Youngstown then drove her body to Niagara Falls, where he was planning on committing suicide.
At the event downtown, right outside the Starting Lineup Barber Shop, where Mickens used to work, a balloon launch was held in her honor, followed by a prayer.
“We were thinking of ways to celebrate Anvia today and we’re just so blessed that before we could think of something, something was already being planned by her colleagues and those who were pretty much like a second family to her in the workplace,” said Anvia’s sister, Carinda Mickens.
Everyone made sure to wear yellow, her favorite color.
“She loved life, she loved her friends, she loved just making people smile,” said Juanita Pete, a close friend. “When you think of yellow, you think of the smiley face.”
“We take Anvia to work every day, and we can’t help but to be happy because she was a happy person,” said Jerome Franklin, owner of Starting Lineup.
“We want to celebrate as many birthdays as we can,” Pete said.
“We always keep her and carry her with us in our hearts, in our minds and our skills, every day,” said Domnique Tubbs, another close friend.
“Unfortunately, we’re not by ourselves…when it comes to the families that are experiencing this,” said Darryl Mickens, Sr., Anvia’s father. “We’re not by ourselves with the women that experience domestic violence and we just pray that somehow through this with Anvia, we can be a blessing and some type of support for women who don’t have a way out, who feel they don’t have a way out.”
He did say that Anvia’s situation was unique in that she didn’t feel like she had to get out of the relationship.
“It was just very unexpected, but same classification, still is domestic violence.”
Niagara County Coroner James Carroll says Mickens died of 23 stab wounds, 14 lacerations and strangulation.
Those who attended Tuesday’s ceremony say they will continue to do this each year in honor of Mickens’ birthday and the lives she continues to touch.