ATHENS — She lay beneath white roses. Her dad leaned against her casket before it was closed for the last time.
Bobby Wright and Tammy Crawford did not speak publicly during the funeral that followed for their daughter. Friends, siblings, elected officials and preachers did.
“Lex took friendships very [seriously],” said Darnell Shelton, who had been her college counselor at Clarke Central High School in Athens. “And that’s what makes it so difficult to be here today.”
Alexis Crawford — better known as Lex or Lexi — was a 21-year-old senior at Clark Atlanta University who was reported missing Nov. 1. Her father pleaded for her return at a news gathering. “Baby, I love you, baby,” he said through tears. “Just come home, baby. Just come home.”
Her body was found in a DeKalb County park after a weeklong search. Her Atlanta roommate — a close college friend — and the roommate’s boyfriend are charged with felony murder.
The tragedy has captured attention not only in Georgia but around the nation. Crawford’s funeral was live streamed online. Two busloads of Clark Atlanta students and faculty made the trip from Atlanta. The funeral included in-person remarks by the mayor of Athens, Clark Atlanta’s president and Fulton County Commission Chairman Robb Pitts.
Pitts bemoaned black-on-black crime — “people who look like me and you,” he told an audience of several hundred people at Cornerstone Church.
“Something is broken,” he said. He promised to find a solution.
A friend of Crawford’s from high school told his peers, “We have been dying before our time. Not supposed to be.”
Much of service, though, focused on how Crawford lived. Those close to her described her as sweet, smiling and faithful.
In the softest of voices, college friend Deajia Kershaw recalled first meeting her freshman year suitemate.
“She said, ‘Hey, I’m Lex,’ real country like…. We’ve just been friends ever since,” Kershaw said. They talked about their shared dreams: to be rich, to own a big home. Not to have kids, though they each agreed to be a godparent should plans change.
“I love you, Lexi. I’m going to miss you.”
Shelton, Crawford’s former counselor, said, “I never once saw Lex betray a friend, but always tried to be there for one.”
He said he would pledge $2,500 toward setting up a scholarship in her name.
Khadijah Grier knew Crawford since elementary school, but became a friend when they took an Advanced Placement statistics class in high school. They toured Clark Atlanta with other students and felt a bond with the campus, Grier said after the service. “Like we were supposed to be there.”
Grier said when she would return late and exhausted from a college dance practice, her friend would make sure she had something to eat before going to sleep. She recalled how Crawford had wanted to start a women’s empowerment group for high school students.
Younger sister, Alexandria, shared with attendees one of the last texts she received from her older sister just a few days before she went missing: “All this is in God’s plan. It will work out for me. Pray with me.”
“She refused to live her life with guilt and fear,” the younger sister said.
An older brother, speaking for the family, thanked Clark Atlanta, the Atlanta Police Department, and a preacher who worked with the family.
Crawford’s surviving siblings — nine of them — huddled together on stage, with their parents, leaning into each other.
Said Clark Atlanta President George French, “It wasn’t supposed to be this way, and it hurts. It hurts to the core. But God still loves this family.”
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