HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The mother and father of Jenae Gagnier, the Instagram star who was known to millions as Miss Mercedes Morr, say they've lost the brightest light in their family.
"She's a person. That was our baby," said her mother, Jeaneta Grover.
For the first time since Jenae's murder, her parents talked with Eyewitness News reporter Stefania Okolie. They described their oldest daughter as a dependable and loving big sister, a daddy's girl, and her mother's best friend.
"She was so famous in her world, and so loved in ours," said Grover.
Across Houston, Jenae became famous in the entertainment industry. Her stunning and daring photos on Instagram drew hundreds of thousands of likes.
"It scared the hell out of me," said her father, Mark Gagnier. "My daughter was beautiful. That scared the hell out of me. And she kept trying to get more and more beautiful, she worked on it hard. That scared the hell out of me."
But even with that fear in his pocket, Gagnier never imagined what he would walk into when he arrived to his 33-year-old daughter's apartment Sunday evening. He rushed there concerned after his family had not heard from Jenae all weekend.
"I know my daughter and when I got to my daughter's house and it was locked up and she's not answering my phone call, which is not like her, I knew something was up. So I didn't hesitate to kick the door down," said Gagnier. "What I saw, I wouldn't want any parent to go through."
His daughter was dead at the bottom of the staircase.
A heartbroken Gagnier thought it could have been an accident, but upstairs he and his girlfriend found Jenae's killer. Kevin Accorto, 34, had a knife in his neck. Investigators say he stabbed himself.
"He was twitching, he was gurgling," Gagnier said. "I could look in the room and there's writings all over the wall."
Penned with lipstick or pens, the rambling notes contained confessions, apologies and professed love for Jenae -- a woman who investigators do not believe Accorto knew personally.
"My monthly conversation is, Jenae you have all these followers. Some probably because they love you, some because they like your look, some more crazy, and some obsessed," said Gagnier.
Her family believes Accorto was just that -- a crazed follower who stalked Jenae and somehow found her.
"I don't know how he found her and I don't know how all this happened," said her father.
As news spread quickly over social media Sunday regarding the death of the Instagram star, so did rumors.
"It went from false accusations of HIV or COVID, to other things," said Gagnier.
Her parents say the rumors flooding the internet made it that much more difficult to mourn the loss of their daughter.
The medical examiner ruled Jenae's death was a homicide. She was strangled and suffered a traumatic concussion, the Fort Bend County Medical Examiner confirmed.
Richmond investigators are working to figure out how Accorto found Jenae and got into her apartment.