PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Loved ones gathered at Highland Park to remember the life of Nalani Johnson.
A memorial was held Wednesday for Johnson, who would have celebrated her fourth birthday.
“Nalani was a rambunctious, very headstrong little girl, loved on everybody. She was just an awesome, awesome little girl,” Taji Walsh, Johnson’s grandmother, told KDKA’s Jennifer Borrasso. “We miss her something terrible.”
Walsh clings to the only thing she has now: precious memories of Johnson, who police say was murdered in 2019.
“Support and family have been the main things that have made this I won’t say easy but bearable,” Walsh said.
Friends and family gathered on what would have been Johnson’s fourth birthday Wednesday.
“Although she is not here in body, I know she is here in spirit,” Walsh said. “We try to keep the memories that we have of her alive and going.”
The group, who wants to honor her memory forever, sang “Happy Birthday” before releasing balloons into the sky.
Walsh told KDKA’s Jennifer Borrasso that she is still focused on trying to get Amber Alert changes.
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Sharena Nancy, who is facing criminal homicide and other related charges in the death of Johnson, has her trial scheduled for May 2022.
Police say Nancy abducted the little girl on Aug. 31, 2019, in Penn Hills. Johnson was later found dead on Sept. 3 in Pine Ridge Park in Indiana County.
Investigators say Johnson, her father and another friend were with Nancy in Penn Hills. Law enforcement alleges Nancy took off in the car Nalani was in after an argument about money.
Police said that Paul Johnson and Nancy were beginning a romantic relationship.