Relatives, sorority sisters remember Chicago adjunct professor found beaten to death in Englewood

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A vigil was held Friday for a Chicago woman was found beaten to death inside her Englewood home Wednesday night.

Aaliyah Newell, 47, was last seen Sunday grabbing drinks with her friends. Now those friends are trying to cope with this sudden loss.

"My first thought was, this can't be real," said Brandy Garris, friend and sorority sister of the victim. "She was a beautiful, beautiful soul and I hate to think what her last moments were like."

With song and sorrow, relatives of Aaliyah Newell and members of her sorority family remembered her vibrant spirit.

"She was that bright star that you saw," said Teauria Brown, chaplain, National Pan-Hellenic Council of Chicago. "Whenever you saw her, you were happy. And even if you weren't happy, she made you happy because she was happy."

"She was definitely authentic," Garris said. "You were going to get Aaliyah Newell and nothing else. Someone truly took away an angel on this Earth."

Garris met and became close friends with Newell while attending University of Illinois. They were also 'Alpha Kappa Alpha' sorority sisters

"Everyone loved Aaliyah," Garris said. "Everyone did...She was your sister, she was your mother, she was your confidant."

Garris, like so many others, says enough is enough.

"We experienced so much trauma lately," Garris said. "We're tired of it, tired of it in Chicago and tired of it in our Black and brown community."

Newell was remembered Friday night at a gathering in Englewood in front of her home in the 7200-block of South Vincennes.

"No one deserves to be murdered in their own home," said her mother, Cynthia Newell. "I appreciate every effort in the community to help us find whoever murdered my daughter."

Police issued a community alert "seeking information from anyone who may have seen suspicious behavior or have security cameras" in the area.

Newell worked as a human resources recruiter and also taught online college classes.

"Her life is lost, and there's no one in custody," said Kimberly Egonmwan, an Alpha Kappa Alpha member. "And what matters is that that happens too often in the city of Chicago to Black women and girls."

"My daughter mattered, and I want justice for Aaliyah," Cynthia Newell said.

It's unclear exactly when Newell was killed, and so police are asking people in that area to check their surveillance videos from Sunday night to Wednesday evening.

Police said no one is currently in custody and no description of any suspect has been released. An investigation is ongoing.
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