CHARLOTTE — Family, friends and the community came together Friday night to remember the life of four-year-old Majelic Young.
They held a vigil Friday at 8 p.m. at Camp Greene Park.
Police said the young girl was murdered by her mother last year but it her remains were just found a week ago on May 21.
The tragedy shook everyone that knew her and the community.
Several dozen people who attended the candlelight vigil balloons, flowers and grief.
Majelic’s father and grandmother were among the first ones to light candles
Organizers wanted the gathering to be about healing because the family has dealt with so many emotions.
“You don’t have to be sad, because Majelic will always be up there with God,” the girl’s little sister said.
There is one thing that everyone wants and that is justice for Majelic.
Grandmother arrested in death of 4-year-old girl allegedly killed by mom
Malikah Diane Bennett, 31, was charged with first-degree murder, felony child abuse, inflicting physical injury and felony concealing a death after the remains of her 4-year-old daughter, Majelic, were found in the backyard of their northwest Charlotte home.
On Thursday, police said they had also charged Bennett’s mother, 53-year-old Tammy Taylor Moffett, for her involvement in the crime. Moffett was charged with concealing a death and accessory after the fact of murder.
Earlier, Channel 9′s Tina Terry spoke with neighbors who wanted to share what they witnessed outside the family’s home over the past few years.
“It’s sickening. Honestly, it’s so sick,” one neighbor said. “You look at someone, they’re your neighbor, you’ve heard them before. I’ve even looked her in the eyes before and it’s like I could never see you doing this.”
Some neighbors said they saw many signs that Bennett’s children were often not safe.
“The little boy was out there with the dog alone all the time,” a neighbor said. “One day, there was a bus coming and he ran out in the street after the dog and almost got hit by a bus, caused a traffic jam. She didn’t come out until she noticed it and it was crazy. The kid almost got hit by a bus and he was three, four years old.”
Channel 9 pulled police calls for service for the address on Thursday. Records show that officers were called to the house about 77 times since January 2020.
Many of the calls were regarding domestic violence.
“The police would be there weekly, if not multiple days during the week,” a neighbor said.
The neighbor said Moffett was almost always at the house.
“To know the grandmother helped or aided her in any way, shape, form -- disturbing,” the neighbor said.
“This could have been prevented”
On Wednesday, Bennett’s sister spoke with Channel 9 on behalf of her niece whose voice was taken away.
“This could have been prevented,” she said. “I feel that Social Services failed Majelic and the rest of those kids.”
Even though Bennett had pending charges of child abuse for allegedly leaving her kids home alone in early 2020, her sister said Majelic moved from her dad’s house to live with her mom that very same year.
“She didn’t have her a month,” Bennett’s sister said. “She didn’t have her a month before everything happened.”
In August, she said she noticed her niece was missing and said her sister told her she had sent Majelic back to her dad’s house.
“She said she couldn’t deal with it,” Bennet’s sister said. “Majelic had some situation where she wouldn’t eat. I said she’s probably stressed, she doesn’t know you. She’s in a whole new situation.”
According to warrants, Bennett abused her daughter, leaving her with black eyes, bruises and swelling.
“I feel like everybody should have done more,” Bennet’s sister said.
“This case is deeply disturbing”
Bennett made her first appearance in court Monday. She was in the courtroom for just a few minutes and did not say anything as the judge told her she was charged with child abuse and murder.
Family members gathered outside the courthouse, holding signs that read “Justice for Majelic.”
Police found the girl’s remains on Friday after learning that she hadn’t been seen in several months. CMPD said they were investigating reports that Majelic had not been seen for months, and had received several tips that foul play may have been involved.
“We called her Jelly,” said Kendra Wade, a family member. “She had a cousin named Peanut. We called them Peanut Butter and Jelly.”
Detectives went to the home on Braden Drive near Capps Hill Mine where they recovered human remains in the backyard believed to belong to the missing 4-year-old, authorities said.
Chopper 9 flew over the scene on Friday afternoon and saw a large area around a home roped off with crime scene tape.
CMPD brought in cadaver dogs during the search. Police didn’t specify how investigators believe she was killed.
The girl’s family told Channel 9 on Monday that the last time they saw her was in August.
“You would think it’s harder when you don’t know, you would think, but now to hear so many accusations, it’s unbearable -- unimaginable,” said Sabrina Baker, a friend. “And you’d think it would be a movie rather than our real lives.”
Detectives said they interviewed several people who came to police headquarters, including the child’s mother, Bennett. After the interview, police charged Bennett.
“I’ve worked homicide for the last 10 years and I can tell you this case is deeply disturbing,” CMPD homicide Lt. Bryan Crum said. “It’s deeply disturbing to everyone who’s worked it.”
Crum said Bennett’s relationship with her four-year-old was abusive.
“But to think about this baby being in that shallow grave for nine months with no one knowing where she’s at,” said Lucille Puckett, a friend. “The torment of that baby, and the torment of this family right here. They asked the mother where she was, and the mother gave no answer.”
Police have not said when the child died or what may have happened.
A few neighbors and school staff who knew the family immediately started building a memorial for the child.
“It’s really a bad situation,” said Lashonda Alexander, a teacher who knows the family.
Children’s advocate Karen McLeod says Majelic’s story serves as a sobering reminder to all of us.
“Children who are pre-entering school are the ones we worry about the most,” McLeod said. “That’s where you see daycare, friends, churches we’re all mandated reporters. If you see abuse and neglect you’re supposed to report that.”
Channel 9 reached out to DSS to see if officials were aware of the abuse in the Bennett home, but the department said it couldn’t answer specific questions about the case because the investigation is ongoing.
DSS sent Channel 9 the following statement:
Thank you for your inquiry. First, we would like to offer our deepest condolences to the family. Additionally, we would like to share that due to the ongoing criminal investigation, we cannot release information that is likely to jeopardize the State’s ability to prosecute the defendant, is likely to jeopardize the defendant’s right to a fair trial, is likely to undermine an ongoing or future criminal investigation, and could cause mental or physical harm or danger to a minor child residing in the deceased child’s household [as outlined in NCGS 7B-2902 (d)]. As a result of these reasons, no further information can be released regarding this case. We encourage the community to report concerns about child abuse and neglect to our 24 hour dedicated child abuse-hotline at 980-31-HELPS (980-314-3577).
This is an ongoing investigation.
Check back with wsoctv.com for updates.
(WATCH: Toddler suffers fatal beating, mom’s boyfriend charged)
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