The family of a teenager found dead in Kalamazoo pleads for justice, as police close in on her killer.
The body Mujey Dumbaya, 16, was found in Kalamazoo late last month, days after disappearing on the way to school in the Grand Rapids area.
The Newschannel 3 I-Team uncovered information that she was killed shortly after Quinn James, 42, a former employee at her school who she accused of rape, was notified the trial was moving forward.
Dumbuya's family is heartbroken and police are being very tight lipped about the investigation.
Dumbuya's family said during a press conference Tuesday that they are not pointing any fingers and they want police to do their job. However, they are also impatient and want answers to the many questions remaining.
Jainya Sannoh, Dumbuya's oldest aunt, is at the forefront of her family's effort to keep Mujey's story alive. She fears the investigation turning into a cold case, with no suspect behind bars.
"I'm fearful for my family and I'm fearful for the community. Everybody keeps asking the question that no one has answers to," Sannoh said.
Her family is again asking people who know something to say something.
They came to the United States as Liberian refugees escaping violence in their home country, only to find it followed them.
"My sister who is Mujey's mom, she's just torn into pieces. She looks at me and asks me, ‘what are you going to do?’" Sannoh said.
As the family asks people to come forward, attorney Christine Yared accused Kentwood Public Schools Administrators of prohibiting their employees from saying anything about Dumbuya or her case. Dumbuya was a student at East Kentwood High School at the time of her murder.
"They have an obligation to not prevent, but to encourage, their employees to give information," Yared said.
Yared questioned what Kentwood Schools knew about James when they hired him as a groundskeeper. Dumbuya accused James of rape in 2017, but was killed before the case could go to trial.
"If it is true that the school knew he had a felony record that included armed robbery, serious violent crime and being a prisoner in possession of a weapon. Why would they hire him to work with children?" Yared said.
The school district says James' job didn't require any contact with students and the Michigan Department of Education says it was within its rights to hire him.
Sannoh talked about her niece's rape case against James. She says Mujey was afraid of him and came to her for help.
"She needed somebody to trust and she needed somebody to fall back on. And I think I was just the right person to be there for her,” Sannoh said.
Newschannel 3 learned the rape case against James will still go to trial in a couple months with multiple witnesses.
The family worries that what happened to Dumbuya might silence other rape victims and discourage them from coming forward.
They urged the criminal justice system to do more to protect victims, making the point that this case does not just affect Dumbuya family but the whole community.
Sannoh said, "I’m going to be there for her. she's not there, but I'm definitely going to be there for her."