Friends and family celebrate Yashanee Vaughn's young life cut short
by: Becca Quint A member of the dance group Viz-U-Lyze comforts Shaquita Louis, Yashanee Vaughn’s mother, after performing a dance inspired by Vaughn Saturday afternoon during a funeral service at City Bible Church.

About 1,000 people spent Saturday afternoon in Portland's City Bible Church celebrating the life of 14-year-old Yashanee Vaughn, who police say was murdered in mid-March and her body left for months on the side of Rocky Butte.

Vaughn's family and friends told people attending the memorial service that they never gave up looking for their child. Yashanee's mother, Shaquita Louis, said she was determined to find her daughter and refused to stop looking and pressing the public for help until her remains were found two weeks ago.

'She's always going to be in everybody's hearts,' Reynelda Hayes, Vaughn's grandmother, told Fox 12. 'I'm just going to remember her as a happy, bubbly carefree girl. I'm not going to forget her, ever.'

The memorial service included music, dance and remembrances from Yashanee's teachers and friends. Her middle school principal, Elizabeth Jensen of Open Meadows Middle School in North Portland, told the gathering that Yashanee 'brought such a sense of joy to everything she did.'

'She was one of the strongest young people I have ever worked with,' Jensen said. 'I've never met anyone in the 12 years of working with students who had her determination and strength of will and strength of mind and nothing, nothing got in her way.'

In addition to honoring her life, Vaughn's family and friends also thanked community members who kept the case in the public's eye. Vaughn disappeared in mid-March, the same day Portland police say she was shot and killed.

Parrish Bennette Jr., 16, faces a murder charge in Vaughn's death. It was information from Bennette that led investigators two weeks ago to the spot on Rocky Butte where Vaughn's remains were discovered.

Bennette remains in jail, held without bail on murder and manslaughter charges.

'It's just the beginning of the closure, there's still more to come,' Louis said.

Fox 12 contributed to this news story.

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