Memorials, Easter gathering honor slain Hope Mills teen
Posted April 18
Hope Mills, N.C. — On a holiday that reflects new life and hope, people plan to gather in Hope Mills on Easter Sunday to show the family of a slain teen that neither she nor they will be forgotten.
Danielle Locklear, 15, disappeared on March 11 on the way to a friend's house, and her body was found April 2 in the South River near the South Gray Street bridge along the Cumberland-Sampson county line. Authorities said she had been strangled, and cinder blocks were tied to her before her body was dumped in the river.
Je'Michael Malloy, 17, of Autryville, her former boyfriend, and Dominic Lock, 18, of Fayetteville, have been charged with her death.
"It's really, really a hard thing to go through as a grandmother and family," Darline Heegel, Locklear's grandmother, said Friday. "My mother is totally devastated, just like we all are, and I don't know at this point how I'm going to have closure because it's a hurtful thing."
A memorial has sprung up along the South Gray Street bridge, with people leaving flowers, stuffed animals and words of encouragement for her family.
Easter will be the Locklear family's first holiday without Danielle, and they are trying to remember the way she lived instead of how she died. A memorial on the family's front lawn features bright colors, images of butterflies and rabbits and bottles of bubble mix.
"I think the rabbits are obviously because of Easter coming up, but the colors – the pink and purple, yellow – those are all her favorite colors. She loved the spring and just bright colors," said Locklear's aunt, Chena Papa. "The butterflies, that's something between her and her mom, so that's why we have butterflies in the yard, and we have people coming over blowing bubbles because, every birthday party she ever had, she always had bubbles."
Friends and relatives plan to hold a bicycle rally on Sunday, with proceeds going toward Locklear's funeral and other expenses. Anyone who wants to participate can meet in the parking lot of Hella's Restaurant, at 3041 N. Main St., at 2 p.m.
Funeral arrangements have not been made yet because the Office of the State Medical Examiner hasn't released her body to the family.