The family and friends of a 17-year-old Maryland girl are left with questions days after her body was found by a passerby in a wooded area in Frederick County, Maryland. According to Baltimore CBS affiliate WJZ, the Frederick County Sheriff’s office is investigating her death as a possible homicide.

Ty’kerria Dawson, a recent high school grad from Hagerstown, Maryland, was recovered the day before her 18th birthday with apparent injuries along a well-frequented walking trail. The young woman who stumbled upon her notified authorities around 5 p.m. on Saturday that there was a lifeless body in the area where she once enjoyed daily walks. According to a statement obtained by People, police believe her death was the cause of a targeted act of violence, and don’t believe the person potentially responsible for her death is an active threat to the public.

Tykerria Dawson poses in white graduation cap
Dawson (left) graduated from Antietam Academy in Hagerstown, Maryland, shortly before her death.

On Monday, Dawson’s loved ones and neighbors held a vigil in her honor. Reporters from WDVM were present to witness the scripture readings, songs and cries for justice that rang out from the intimate and emotional gathering. Those who spoke at the vigil, and with People, remember the young lady, who went by the name Tootie, as a great child with big dreams who brought light to the world. 

A GoFundMe campaign calling for “Justice for Tootie” has been set up to help with Dawson’s funeral expenses. In a message from the organizer Nya Lawrence, it further describes the teen as “highly favored” and “always smiling.” “If you knew her you had no choice but to love her,” Lawrence writes. “Continue to keep her family in your prayers. She will be missed.” 

To date, no one has been charged in Dawson’s death.  The Frederick County Sheriff’s office is asking anyone with information about the case to call Detective Skelley at 301-600-4017. Tips can also be left anonymously on the sheriff’s office tip line at 301-600-4131.

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