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Cambria Hts family holds vigil for slain daughter

The mother of Sabrina Matthews, the teen who was murdered in her bedroom two years ago, said she knows nothing can bring her daughter back but something can be done to bring the fugitive killer to justice.

While preparing a candlelight vigil outside her home Tuesday evening, Shirda Matthews said the fact that the person responsible for her daughter’s death has not been caught upsets her and frustrates her every night.

“The pain is still in my heart and it is aching,” she said.

Dozens of neighbors, family members and elected officials were expected to take part in the vigil at the 234th Street home, including City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans), who has supported the family during their efforts to find the killer.

Matthews said she finds some solace in knowing that she has support from all areas and tries to keep her daughter’s memory alive through her community activism.

“She was caring and she was loving,” she said. “I want to give back that care and love.”

On Nov. 9, 2008, Sabrina, who attended August Martin High School, was found naked by her father in her upstairs bed with her throat slashed. Police said there were no signs of forced entry into the bedroom and no suspects have been identified. Detectives are still investigating the murder.

Matthews said she rarely goes into the girl’s room, which contains a makeshift photo memorial, but when she does, she spends her time praying.

“She didn’t deserve this death,” she said.

Sabrina’s cousin, Natesha Folkes, 17, of St. Albans, said the family constantly visits the teen’s grave and remembers the good times they shared. Folkes said she and her cousin were close and would hang out all the time.

“It’s helping more and more,” she said of the memorial. “Last year, I was not comfortable coming, but now I feel better.”

Matthews said she constantly urges the police and the community to help in bringing her daughter’s killer to justice. Shawn Williams, a crime victims’ advocate who has been working with the family since the murder, said she has been pushing for anyone with any information to come forward to the authorities because every minute they do not, the family sinks deeper into depression.

“If she gives up hope, the detectives on the case will not push hard,” Williams said of Matthews.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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