Mary Pringle is a lifelong Michiana resident and Jessica Starr’s aunt.
Who killed Jessica Starr? Do you know? Was it you? Let me tell you about Jessica and what happened to her.
Aug. 8 will mark two years since she was viciously attacked in her driveway when she returned from her second job. She was only 26 and a bright, shining spot for an amazing number of people. Two days after her murder, more than 100 people attended a candlelight vigil at the place she was murdered and her car was parked. What’s wrong with that picture? Anyone? She was killed next to her car, with the driver’s door open. Two days later, her car was still there. The driveway and surrounding area were not roped off by the police; anyone could touch her car. As a matter of fact, numerous signs, as well as candles, were placed on her car. There was a gallon of milk, a package of cookies and some bleach in her back seat that she had picked up on her way home. A week after her murder, her dad took her car home with him. There were still muddy handprints inside the driver’s door.
Two years later, we are no closer to finding out who killed our bright, shining Starr.
We’d almost lost her several years earlier, when a young man attacked her in her garage. The years following were a precious gift, and she spent those years touching many lives. She wasn’t an activist; she didn’t spend all her time volunteering or anything like that. She spent most of her time working, making friends and touching lives with her generous, loving spirit.
Of course, it wasn’t only in those years that she touched lives. Her senior year in high school, she was voted homecoming queen. She didn’t ask for it, and she didn’t tell most of her family. She didn’t even tell me, the person she’d grown up calling “Aunt Mommy.” She never wanted to be in the spotlight, but you always knew without a doubt that you were in her spotlight.
There are so many things I could tell you about Jessie. The night she was born, I sat with her dad and her big brother. She was such a pretty baby and grew into a beautiful young woman. She wasn’t perfect — no one is — but we loved her that much more for her imperfections. Many of us lost our minds for a few days, or months, because what happened to her is so very wrong. What is even more wrong is that we don’t know who did it, or why they did it. We don’t know if they planned to kill her, or if they just wanted to scare her, or if they did this horrible thing in the moment (although if that’s the case, why were they in her driveway at 10:30 p.m.?).
All this time later, she’s still sorely missed. A few months after her murder, some of her friends organized a drive in Jessie’s name to benefit the Elkhart County Women’s Shelter. They were hoping to fill a truck; they filled five trucks and a few cars. The Jessica Starr Memorial page on Facebook is very active, even now. One of her friends is making crafts and bumper stickers in her memory. A portion of U.S. 12 in Michigan is dedicated to her. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t miss her like mad.
Her funeral was held at Penn Friends Church, outside Cassopolis, Mich. The church was filled to capacity. It was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen. Even today, when I think of the love and sorrow that filled that church, it brings tears to my eyes.
This was such a vicious attack, up close and personal. How could you hate someone so much? How could you have so much evil in your heart as to do something like that? I hope the person or persons who did this lie awake at night with the guilt of it all — guilt for taking a life, guilt for taking a life away from so many people, guilt for taking a life created by God.
If you know who killed Jessica Starr, please call Crime Stoppers at 800-342-STOP. They will forward the information to an agency that will, hopefully, actually follow up. Better yet, just call me. I would be happy to take the information to Elkhart County personally and give them a better idea of what “follow-up” means.