MEMPHIS, TN - The death of 18 year-old Wajonel DeSilva, found dead on the side of the road in East Memphis over the weekend, is still a mystery to investigators and to her family.
"I just wanted to see her so I could kiss her," says DeSilva's mother, Toni Ladmirault. "I wanted to tell Jonel I love her. But I'm not going to be able to see my baby."
While other moms are planning for Christmas, Toni is planning for her oldest daughter's funeral.
"She probably won't be able to have an open casket," she says, "because they say they've never seen something so horrible like that."
Passing motorists discovered DeSilva's body around 8:00 a.m. on Sunday, December 14, 2008, lying on an entrance ramp at Interstate 240 and Mount Moriah. How she got there and how she died are still unknown.
Ladmirault says her daughter's upper body and face were so badly mutilated, Memphis Police asked her to identify her child from a picture they had taken of one of her tattoos.
"It was a tattoo of her boyfriend's name," says Ladmirault, "covered in blood. The police say it looks like she was run over but I don't think that's how she died. I believe she was murdered and her body was thrown out there."
Toni is a single mother raising three other children. And now she'll have to raise her granddaughter, too. Jonel leaves behind a beautiful and talkative 2 year-old child named Jayla.
"She misses her mom," Toni says with tears in her eyes. "She just thinks her mom's gone and she'll be back. She keeps asking where's Mama?"
As Ladmirault talked with Eyewitness News about her daughter's death, little Jayla's brow furrowed and her smile quickly disappeared. It was clear by the expression on her young face, she understood something bad had happened to her mother.
Making matters worse, says Toni, the money she was going to use to buy presents for her kids for Christmas, will now have to be used to pay for Jonel's funeral.
What should be a time of celebration for the family is filled with tragedy, sadness and many unanswered questions.
"I just want to know what happened to her," Ladmirault says. "She was a good girl, always happy and joyful. She loved everybody and didn't have a single enemy. If somebody knows what happened, I hope they come forward."
Jonel DeSilva's family says she was last seen with her boyfriend, a 23 year-old man who was released from the Shelby County Jail two days before Jonel's death.
DeSilva's father, Wade DeSilva, says Jonel's boyfriend hasn't come to the house to talk to them or offer any condolences. He says the young man is driving Jonel's car, a black 1999 or 2000 Cadillac Deville, and won't return it.
"He said he'd go to the police and talk to them," says Mr. DeSilva, "but he hasn't done it yet. And we haven't heard anything from the police. I hope they get to him before people on the street do. A lot of people are upset about this."