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The family mourns after the 19-year-old was found dead in KCK

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (KCTV) – A South Sudanese refugee family, now living in Kansas, is grappling with the loss of a family member to what they term a senseless crime.

Kansas City, Kansas, police said Adhel Deng, 19, was the victim of a homicide.

Now, his loved ones in Douglas County are making sure the teenager isn’t soon forgotten.

“I’m not going to cry,” said Deng’s mother Helen Akot. “I stopped crying because he won’t bring it back to me. I have to be strong to find her killer.

Akot is struggling to stay strong. But, a week after his daughter was found dead inside her vehicle on the 6100 block of Haskell Ave. in KCK, he can’t help but grieve.

“He was a hero to me,” Akot added. “I’m here for you, Adhel. I wish you could hear me.

The 19-year-old was a decorated scholar, a soccer player and went to college having recently graduated. His next step was to join the army. It’s something Maresia Pencil-Smith, who is in the military, has helped her with.

“I couldn’t believe it,” said family friend Pencil-Smith. “So, I sat there and read it and thought, ‘No, that can’t be true.’ I contacted her mother to confirm. Yes, it’s real and she’s gone. She really broke my heart. I couldn’t stop crying because I watched her grow up from a very young age.

Investigators from the KCKPD’s Major Case Unit are currently investigating. No arrests have yet been made.

“I wasn’t there when the monster took her,” Akot said. “They took her life away. I wasn’t there for her, to hold her when she breathed her last.

While authorities continue to work to find leads, Deng’s loved ones are doing their best to ensure his legacy lives on.

“Adhel was great fun,” Pencil-Smith recalled. “When you are around her, she always wants to make you laugh. She had one of the biggest laughs you’ve ever seen. This hits me very hard. I will always miss her.

A GoFundMe account has been created for Deng’s funeral expenses. You can click here to donate.

Deng’s funeral was set for February 11, which would have been his 20th birthday.

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