Khaliyah Smith lost one of her best friends Monday, two months after the father of her daughter died.
Both of her loved ones were shot and killed, and now Smith is left trying to explain to her young daughter what happened to her father and one of her favorite “aunts.”
Smith’s best friend, Brittany N. Mcadory, 27, was one of two Janesville women shot and killed early Monday.
Seairaha J. Winchester, 30, also was killed.
The father of Smith’s daughter was Montay Penning, the Janesville man shot and killed by Beloit police Dec. 10.
Preliminary results from autopsies conducted at the Dane County Medical Examiner’s Department on Monday showed both women died from “homicidal, firearm-related trauma,” according to the news release.
“I’m in a f---ed up place,” Smith said. “I lost two of the most important people in my life.”
Brittany was funny, energetic and loving. She would give the socks off her feet to help someone else, Smith said.
Kayla Mcadory, Brittany’s cousin, said Brittany had the best smile.
Brittany taught Smith’s daughter how to make a funny face. The little girl likes to run around the house making the face and saying, “Look what Aunt Brittany taught me,” Smith said.
Brontae Hibbler knew Winchester for 13 years and said she was a bubbly and funny person. She reminisced about times when Winchester and Hibbler rode around and listened to music together.
Hibbler and Briana Neely organized a candlelight vigil to honor Brittany and Winchester on Tuesday night. They wanted to give family and friends an opportunity to cry and laugh together, the way Brittany and Winchester would have wanted, Hibbler said.
Neely said she never in a million years would have believed something so horrible would happen to Winchester and Brittany. Now, six children—four from Winchester and two from Brittany—are left without mothers, Neely said.
Kiara Mcadory, Brittany’s cousin, dropped to her knees along the side of Midvale Drive on Tuesday afternoon.
The 18-year-old woman sobbed in front of a memorial of balloons, flowers, Newport cigarettes, empty bottles of Hennessy liquor, stuffed animals and a Dunkin Donuts iced coffee anchored in the snow.
Kathy Patrick, Brittany’s aunt, said Brittany smiled all the time. She was a happy person who would never hurt anyone, she said.
Patrick, Kiara and Kayla, visited the memorial at about 1 p.m. Tuesday.
They decorated it with flowers and balloons and spray painted “RIP Britt” and “RIP Sea Sea” in the snow.
Brittany was a mother above all else. She was devoted to her son and daughter, Patrick said.
Patrick smiled as she remembered Brittany singing songs from the movie “Moana” to her daughter.
Brittany recently had enrolled in school to pursue nursing, Patrick said, and had posted on Facebook about her excitement for school.
“Got accepted into school to start my LPN journey,” Brittany posted. “I moved away to start a new life and it may be challenging but I’m going to do this.”
Brittany recently moved to Joliet, Illinois, for school and was in Janesville to visit loved ones at the time of her death, Smith said.
Patrick on Monday learned about Winchester’s death before Brittany’s. She knew Brittany and Winchester were friends.
“(I thought) please don’t tell me she (Brittany) was with her,” Patrick said. “And she was.”
Winchester was a bubbly woman and always was nice the few times Patrick met her, she said.
Whoever killed the two women needs to be brought to justice, Neely said.
But even a life sentence in prison won’t heal loved ones’ wounds or help them grieve, Hibbler said.
“She (Brittany) was the most happiest person,” Kiara said through tears.
More than 100 people turned out for the Tuesday night vigil at the site of the deaths. Many took balloons, candles, flowers and flying lanterns.
Many stood silent. Others hugged and cried.
Winchester’s father, Clarence Winchester, addressed the crowd briefly: “I appreciate you guys for showing up here. She would’ve, too.”
Later, Winchester said he hopes the killer “gets what he deserves, and he knows who he is. He will be caught.”
Among the mourners was Vallarie Soler, who babysat Mcadory’s children and was close to the family.
“This is not right. She’s not supposed to be gone,” Soler said as her tears started. “This is a bad dream. She didn’t deserve none of this.”