DETROIT (WXYZ) — The father of 15-year-old Janiya Brown walked down the debris-filled alley where her body was found on Wednesday afternoon on Detroit, Michigan's west side.
"Words can't explain. My baby girl was right here," Jason Brown said. "She was forced here."
Brown's free-spirited daughter who loved lip gloss and being outdoors had been shot multiple times. Her body was found next to a black Chevrolet Malibu that was stolen Monday night.
Brown's daughter had been known to run away, perhaps some sort of effort to escape the trauma of losing her mother last year.
In 2021, Janiya's mother was murdered in the Cleveland, Ohio area. Loved ones say she'd also been shot to death in a vehicle by an estranged ex-boyfriend but managed to drive the two children who were with her to safety.
In April, Janiya's aunt brought her to Michigan to live with her in her Berkley home, hoping the distance from a bad crowd the teen was involved in would help get her on the right track.
But Janiya couldn't sit still, according to her dad. And about three days after arriving in Michigan, Janiya took a relative's phone and ran away from her aunt's house. It would be the last time she ran away.
"We want to make sure that every kid returns safe home. If they're having problems at home, we can work with those but right now, we're having to grieve the loss of a young child," said Detective Lt. Andrew Hadfield of the Berkley Police Department.
Janiya's aunt reported her missing to Berkley police and investigators put the teen's picture out on social media in hopes of getting information that would help them locate her.
The phone had been disconnected, but police said Janiya was still using WiFi to post on social media and detectives knew from the images she was posting that Janiya was with a dangerous crowd.
"There were certain posts where she was in vehicles, traveling, other people with firearms, flashing guns in front of the camera," Hadfield said.
On Wednesday, Detroit police posted a picture of an unidentified teenager that they suspected was involved in the carjacking of a black 2013 Chevy Malibu Monday night. Police said the teen was with two men who were armed.
With the public's help, investigators in Detroit and Berkley quickly realized that their young female suspect was also the child who was found shot to death near the same stolen car found in an alley off Burnette Street near Joy Road on the city's west side.
"I know she couldn't get away from these people. She didn't do this on her own," Brown said about his daughter's alleged involvement in any crimes with people he suspects she recently met on Instagram.
"She was forced to do it. She's a kid. She's a child," he continued.
Brown's now hoping for justice in his daughter's killing. He's also urging other runaways to go home.
"Just go home. Go home to your parents," he said. "It's not safe out here."
This story was originally published by Kimberly Craig of WXYZ in Detroit, Michigan.