'We pray for peace': Vigil honors 15-year-old girl found at Baytown park shot to death

BAYTOWN, Texas (KTRK) -- More than 50 people prayed for peace and asked for justice as they gathered at a Baytown park to honor the life of a 15-year-old girl whose body was found there last week with gunshot wounds.

SEE MORE: 15-year-old track athlete was shot to death in Baytown park


Baytown police told ABC13 that they do not know who killed Jania Tatum, but they are actively investigating and determined to find out who shot the teen twice and left her to die.

"Not only do we pray for peace, God, but we also pray for justice," said J.J. Williams, the pastor at Unity Baptist Church. "Bring justice right now, so that her life will not be in vain."

Williams was among the dozens at Tejas Park for whom the new year begins with a solemn prayer for the soul of a young woman whose death raises questions without answers.

"Jania was a very, very outgoing, loving person," said Michael Hopson, a family friend. "Hopefully, the detectives and whoever else on the case make sure they do their job and get justice for her."

Jania was a student at Sterling High School. She was a varsity letter winner in track and dreamed of joining the Navy to serve and study nursing, but she died from a pair of gunshot wounds.


Police, who had officers watching over the vigil, are still looking for Jania's killer, and those answers cannot come fast enough for the young woman's family and friends. They said they have trouble understanding how someone so kind and promising could be gone.

"I'm tired of looking down on our relatives when we could look at them like I'm looking at you," said cousin Janell Wilson to Jania's mother, Angie Tatum, during the vigil.

Several friends and family members shared heartfelt and emotional tributes. The vigil ended with a balloon release before sunset.

For updates on this story, follow Tom Abrahams on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Copyright © 2022 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.