KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Community members and friends of Mikayla Norris gathered for a prayer service on Wednesday evening to remember the 18-year-old recently killed in an apparent murder-suicide.
Norris was last seen around 8:30 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 17, at her job at Jack Stack BBQ at 95th and Metcalf in Overland Park.
Her parents reported her missing, saying it was unusual behavior for their daughter and she may be in danger.
Norris’s body was later found Tuesday night in a wooded area near the 8500 block of Hillcrest, apparently a victim of a carjacking that turned deadly.
On Wednesday evening, around 100 people filled the Fort Scott Church of the Nazarene for a prayer service and balloon release in honor of Norris.
Prayer service has gathered outside to release balloons in honor of Mikayla Norris pic.twitter.com/zKUttVJtlH
— Tom Dempsey (@KCTomDempsey) December 21, 2017
For friends who grew up with Norris in Fort Scott and attended the service, the apparent crime was tough to believe.
“When my mom woke me up this morning, it kind of hit me like a ton of bricks,” explained longtime friend Caitlyn Killion. “I knew it was happening but I didn't want it to be true."
Killion said Norris was known as a kind person who often helped others.
“She was just passionate about everyone. She always had a smile on her face,” explained Killion. “There was no one who didn't like her. She was so likable."
Others who knew Mikayla spoke of a girl who was a member of the cheerleading team at Fort Scott High School and reached out to fellow classmates.
“I looked up to her a lot on the squad because I was a loner,” said Ashlyn Colvin. “She helped me out and wanted me to stay on the squad. It just hurts."
Seeing surveillance pictures of 22-year-old suspect Kareem McCoy-Lee and hearing details of the crime added to the shock of their friend’s death.
“She'd do anything for anybody,” explained Mickah Lawry. “Why? I just keep thinking why she's gone so soon."
Despite the sizable crowd inside the facility, the church remained very quiet during the service. Sobs could be heard at moments from various parts of the pews.
With a population under 8,000, the death of Mikayla brought shock to the community.
“We walked into school this morning and you could feel that everything was different and everybody was sad,” explained Fort Scott High School student Taelor Owens.
Family members of Mikayla Norris declined to comment on the story on Wednesday.