Vigil held for 15-year-old Tyliyah Whitis, girl found dead in Cedar Rapids

Published: Jul. 22, 2021 at 12:11 AM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - “It just happened so quick, it’s not fair,” T’yanna Nesby, Tyliyah Whitis’ older sister, said.

Nesby and dozens of friends and family gathered Wednesday to remember the 15-year-old who was found dead early Tuesday morning. Police said they were called to the Hawthorne Hills Apartments for a car crash at 6:19 a.m. When they arrived, they found Whitis in the front seat of a severely damaged car with an apparent gunshot wound.

“I was shocked, and immediately after, I was in pain and confused,” Nesby said.

Nesby said her younger sister had been staying with her for a few weeks. She had been sleeping at her northeast side home Tuesday when she learned the news of her sister’s death.

“That was my twin flame,” Nesby said. “She even looked like me. We talked every day, whether that was in person or over FaceTime. She was my rock, this was the person that I felt closest to.”

Nesby said she couldn’t give out too many details, but that Whitis, who was from Peoria, Ill., had been staying with her for three weeks, and it wasn’t like her to put herself in danger.

“She barely left the house,” said Nesby. “She always helped me at the grocery store or take my son to the park. I don’t think she would have known what was going to happen that night.”

Now, she said she wanted people to realize just how fast life could change as they worked towards finding out answers to what led a 15-year-old to lose their life.

“I just want people to hug the people they love closely,” Nesby said. “I woke up went to sleep thinking I was going to wake up and see my sister, and I woke up, and she was gone.”

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