FORT MILL -- Rock Hill's first homicide victim in 2007 will be one of the first people remembered in 2008.
Friends and family of Amanda Rea Beaty -- a 26-year-old Fort Mill native killed during a Rock Hill shooting in July -- will host a candlelight vigil on New Year's Day to remember the life lost and to raise awareness of domestic violence.
Beaty -- who at the time of her death was in the process of changing her legal name back to her maiden name of Abernathy after a divorce -- died on the front porch of her 474 Cummings St. home July 29 from multiple gunshot wounds. Her boyfriend, Kenward Anthony Roscoe of Charlotte, has since been charged with murder and is awaiting trial.
After originally telling police he was inside at the time of the shooting, Roscoe changed his statement after more questioning, police said, and was charged with obstruction of justice in August. Further investigation led police to believe Roscoe was on the porch when the shooting happened. An October arrest warrant states Roscoe shot Beaty with a .40 caliber handgun. Police did not comment on a possible motive.
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Heather Finley, Beaty's close friend and vigil organizer, said she hopes the tragedy will raise awareness of domestic violence.
"If one person's life is saved, it's worth it," Finley said.
Elie Mobley, Beaty's aunt, said Beaty lived with her off and on as a young woman. She said the family didn't approve of Beaty's relationship with Roscoe.
"But Amanda was a beautiful person, and she looked for the good in everyone. She was like a daughter to me," Mobley said. "I just hope justice is done."
Vigil celebrates birthday
Finley said holding the vigil on New Year's Day is important because it would have been Beaty's 27th birthday. Beaty, the daughter of David Abernathy of Fort Mill and Patricia DiFielice of Rock Hill, was the first child born in York County in 1981, Finley said.
The two women became friends at the age of 17. Finley said after Beaty graduated in 1999 from Fort Mill High School, where she played clarinet in the marching band, Beaty became a licensed beautician. She graduated from the Plaza School of Beauty Culture in Rock Hill and was working at Salon Naman off Celanese Road at the time of her death.
Finley described Beaty as a "free-spirited, loving and forgiving" person.
Peggy Payne of Safe Passage of York County, a shelter for women in abusive relationships, will speak at the vigil. Finley said others in attendance who would like to speak in remembrance of Beaty will be welcomed.
Mobley said she hopes the vigil will help heal hurting hearts.
"Christmas was so hard this year. We miss her so much. There isn't a day that goes by where I don't think of her," Mobley said. "I just want people to realize that if they're in an abusive relationship, that there are people out there who want to help and who care."