Not long after graduating from Garfield High School as another Mother’s Day approached, Maria Nash and her family were preparing to bury their mother.
Now, it’s the family’s turn to bury Maria.
It’s a tragic end, her family says, to an often difficult life for the young Akron woman. With her mother’s personal struggles that ultimately claimed her life, Maria was raised for many years by her grandmother.
Still, she graduated from high school and was looking forward to pursuing a career in criminal justice.
“Even though she had been through so much, she still had a positive outlook on life,” her cousin, Shardae Spragling, said Tuesday. “She was just a good person, so beautiful. I just believe she was an angel.”
Nash, 19, was shot and killed last week while visiting with three friends inside a Chapel Hill-area townhouse. All four were shot in the head. No suspects have been identified, and no motive for the killings has been established.
Those who know Nash best believe she was merely a victim of her surroundings, of being in the wrong place when the shooter came. Maria Nash had spent the day with her friend, Kiana Welch, and Welch’s boyfriend, Ronald Roberts, and his life-long friend, Kem Delaney, 23, inside the Kimlyn Circle townhouse.
Welch, 19, and Roberts, 24, had been in a relationship, and Nash met the two when they all lived near each other in apartments on Kline Street about a year ago.
Nash, her relatives say, was in a relationship of her own and was not dating Delaney as some had told reporters during a vigil for the four victims Sunday night. Welch has family living in the Cleveland area. Relatives have not returned messages left by reporters.
Nash’s family members were called to the Kimlyn Circle complex parking lot last week when word of the shooting spread. They joined a large gathering of grieving friends and family members of the four victims who came to learn if their loved one was dead.
Eventually, the Nash family learned what they suspected: that Maria did not survive. Spragling was there in the parking lot that day.
“I kind of knew it was Maria,” she recalled. “I just knew it.”
Spragling, 22, said Maria Nash and Welch both came from troubled families, which seemed to bond the young women’s friendship. Nash was also a member of Liberty Tabernacle and maintained a strong faith in God, Spragling recalled.
It was her faith, Spragling said, that helped Nash through her sometimes difficult childhood, which culminated last May with the death of her 39-year-old mother, DeShawn Clepper. The death came the week of Mother’s Day.
“I just lost the woman that loves and knows me the best. I Love you mom! Rest in peace,” Nash wrote on her Facebook page.
Maria goes on to make several references to her mother throughout the year. She also talked of school, God and a boyfriend.
“She always had a way of keeping her spirit, she kept her relationship with God. I think that’s how she got through everything,” Spragling said.
Nash is also survived by her father, Marcellus Nash Sr., two brothers and three sisters. Her funeral services will be at noon Thursday at Rhoden Memorial Home, 1101 Palmetto Ave., in Akron.
Spragling said she is hoping someone comes forward with information to help police solve the slaying and get the shooter or shooters off the street.
“I would hate for another family to go through the hurt and pain that my family is going through now,” she said. “If that person is capable of this, killing four people, they’re just very cruel.”
Anyone with information about the shooting may call Akron police at 330-375-2490. Anonymous tips for this or any crime may be left at http://ci.akron.oh.us/ASP/tip.html.
Information may also be provided anonymously by calling Summit County Crimestoppers at 330-434-COPS(2677). A cash reward is available.
By Phil Trexler - Akron Beacon Journal (MCT)
©2013 the Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)
Visit the Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio) at www.ohio.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services