Tayanna Manuel was reported missing on Christmas Eve.
DENVER — The family of a 16-year-old girl found dead on Monday morning believes she was killed days earlier in a shooting that sent her boyfriend to the hospital.
Tayanna Manuel’s body was discovered Monday morning outside an apartment complex in the 4900 block of North Salida Street in Denver. That is near 60th Avenue and Pena Boulevard.
Pamela Jackson, the girl's mother, told 9Wants to Know on Tuesday she believes her daughter was killed in a shooting Friday evening.
“We’ve just been trying to get through this as much as we could and as much as we can just to find out answers,” Jackson said on the front porch of her home, surrounded by family. “I just want these people that did this to my daughter to be caught. The weight is just so unbearable – it is so unbearable.”
Denver police are looking for a gray Honda CRV with the license plate CNE-I47 on the back and a pink Auto Nation dealer plate on the front.
Jackson said her daughter was last seen late Thursday night.
On Friday, her daughter’s boyfriend was shot in the 4600 block of Kittredge Street, but she said the family didn’t know at the time that she was with him. Manuel’s boyfriend was injured in that shooting and remained in the hospital Tuesday.
When Manuel still hadn’t come home on Saturday morning – Christmas Eve – the family reported her missing to Denver police.
Jackson said it appears that whoever shot her daughter’s boyfriend grabbed Manuel’s body and drove it to the apartment complex about five miles away before dumping it there.
Jackson questioned how seriously police took that report and said she believed it was handled as if her daughter was a runaway.
“My daughter was 16, and that should have been a red flag – drop everything – she’s 16 years old – and help this woman find her child,” Jackson said.
In a statement to 9NEWS, Denver police said the case was assigned to both the unit that handles missing and exploited persons and the team that investigates firearms, assaults and shootings “to gather information that can help locate the victim as soon as possible.”
On Christmas Day, the Dock Ellis Foundation got involved. They are a national organization that helps families when a person of color goes missing or is experiencing domestic violence or sex trafficking.
“As soon as we received the phone call – and I believe we received the phone call about 9 a.m. Christmas Day, or maybe earlier than that – we immediately went into overdrive the moment the story was told to us because it did not sound right,” said Jasmine Lee, the group’s chief executive officer.
But despite the work of their investigators and searches done by the family, there was no sign of Manuel until her body was found Monday morning.
“She was a wonderful person,” Jackson said of her daughter. “She just loved life. She was happy, silly, always playing around with her sisters. She was just a happy kid. She would give you the shirt off her back if you needed her, and she had a really kind soul – and I just don’t know why this happened to her in the way it did. And I’m just so distraught.”
Contact 9Wants to Know investigator Kevin Vaughan with tips about this or any story: email@example.com or 303-871-1862.