28 September 2023

Family of teenage girl killed on way to school visits scene as vigil is held

28 September 2023

The family of a 15-year-old girl stabbed on her way to school has visited the scene where she died as crowds joined a vigil nearby.

Elianne Andam was wounded in the neck in Croydon, south London, at about 8.30am on Wednesday, with members of the public rushing to try to save her.

Her family visited the scene on Thursday evening as crowds gathered outside the police cordon and prayers were said.

A large group of relatives could be seen next to a bus stop, inside the cordon, where Elianne died.

Some put their arms around each other as flowers were put on the ground.

A statement was read out by a church leader on behalf of the family at the edge of the crime scene.

The statement, which was read out while family members cried and consoled each other, said: “We as a family are struggling to comprehend this painful tragedy that has happened to our beautiful daughter and beloved sister Elianne. Our hearts are broken.

“And we are overwhelmed by sorrow and grief. Our faith in the Lord is strengthening us.

“We would like to express our gratitude to those who have taken the time to send us thoughtful and compassionate messages and prayers.

“We kindly ask for your consideration to also respect our need for privacy as we attempt to come to grips with our deeply devastating loss.

“Elianne was a beautiful person inside and out who loved Jesus. She was intelligent, thoughtful, kind and had a bright future ahead. It is our request that you keep our cherished daughter Elianne and our family, in your thoughts and prayers.”

Meanwhile, Elianne’s friends were “sobbing” and “so emotional” at her school on Thursday, Donna Murray-Turner, chairwoman of the local Safer Neighbourhood Board, told crowds after visiting Old Palace of John Whitgift School earlier in the day.

She said she read messages in a book of condolence and they “talk about her laugh”.

She added: “Staff, teachers, talked about when she entered a room you knew she was there. And her friends, as you can imagine, were sobbing. They were so emotional.”

Ms Murray-Turner added that a meeting will be held at Croydon Town Hall on Monday at 6pm, where the agenda will be about violence against women and girls.

Dozens of bunches of flowers have been left at the scene of the teenager’s death.

Police officers who were among the first on the scene and battled to try to save Elianne appeared visibly moved as they laid flowers.

A post-mortem examination was due to take place on Thursday.

A 17-year-old boy, who knew the victim, was arrested just over an hour after the attack, which happened in busy Wellesley Road.

He remains in police custody after officers were given more time to question him.

Detective Chief Inspector Rebecca Woodsford, who is leading the investigation, said: “My thoughts and the thoughts of my team are with Elianne’s family.

“This is a deeply upsetting time for them and we will do everything we can to support them.”

She said officers are making “good progress” in their investigation and are confident the attack happened near the bus stop rather than on a bus.

Police were seen on Thursday afternoon searching a drain in front of a bus parked within the cordon and also searching long grass earlier in the day.

The Prime Minister said he is shocked and appalled at Elianne’s death and said sentences for knife-related crimes should be toughened.

Rishi Sunak told BBC London’s political editor Tim Donovan: “Everyone will be looking at that and be shocked as I am, appalled by what’s happened and, quite frankly, angry. It just illustrates the importance of clamping down on knife crime.”

Witnesses told the PA news agency Elianne and her alleged attacker were not in a relationship.

Witnesses or anyone with information can contact police on 101, quoting reference CAD 1601/27Sep. To remain anonymous, contact the charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or online.

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