White ribbons adorn the mailboxes and entryway sign the in Wyndham Woods, where teacher Jenna Wall was shot to death last week. ()
Photo: Alexis Stevens/astevens@ajc.com
Photo: Alexis Stevens/astevens@ajc.com

Slain kindergarten teacher was a 'caring friend, a very loving mother'

She didn’t volunteer her time so others would notice. Instead, Jenna Wall just wanted to help others, and she devoted herself not only to her own two boys, but also the young students in her classroom and those she met through church.

About 10 years ago, Wall volunteered to help with a home makeover project through West Ridge Church in Dallas, according to Paul Richardson, an associate pastor. On Monday, Richardson and his wife, Angela, joined others in a community still mourning the death of Wall, a kindergarten teacher at Kemp Elementary School in west Cobb. Last Thursday, Wall, 35, was shot and killed in her home, allegedly by her mother-in-law, according to police.

“My wife and I will always remember Jenna for her willingness to jump in and serve with great joy whether or not she was in a position where others would see her or not,” Richardson told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “She was constantly on the lookout to meet needs and to serve those in need.”

White bows adorned the entrance Monday to the Wyndham Woods neighborhood where Wall lived with her boys, ages 7 and 8, and her parents while she was going through a divorce. Three crape myrtles at the entrance were circled in thin white ribbon and a small bow, and every mailbox in the neighborhood had a matching bow displayed. At the home where Wall died, a cross covered in white flowers sat under two shady trees, which also had bows.

The neighborhood was showing support for a grieving family, homeowners posted on Facebook. On Thursday, neighbors plan to gather for a candlelight vigil at 8:45 p.m. in Wall’s honor.

“May we remember the legacy she left behind as an encouragement to do the same,” the neighborhood Facebook page says. “Thank you for leaving this bow on your mailbox and pulling together as a community to show our love to her family during this difficult time.”

According to investigators, Wall was at home with her sons last Thursday when her mother-in-law, Elizabeth Brown Wall, came to the home. Elizabeth Wall, 63, called her son at work and told him to come get his boys, police said. Then, she allegedly took the boys to her car before returning inside and shooting Jenna Wall.

Jenna and Jerrod Wall, who were married in 2004, had been separated for several months after Jenna filed for divorce in October, court records showed. Jenna Wall claimed that her marriage was “irretrievably broken” in her divorce filing. Jerrod Wall countered her petition, claiming his wife had had an affair and that he wanted joint legal and physical custody of the boys, whom he said he was denied the right to see.

But was that divorce a motive for murder? Police declined to speculate on a possible motive. Within hours of Jenna Wall’s death, Elizabeth Wall was arrested and charged with her murder. The grandmother was being held without bond Monday at the Cobb jail.

Though those closest to her knew of the ongoing divorce, Jenna Wall remained strong in her faith, determined that there were better days ahead for her, Richardson said. Days after an evening summer camp held at West Ridge, Richardson got an email from Wall, who he’d spoken to briefly during camp.

“Times are tough but God is bigger than this and He will prevail,” Wall wrote in the email, provided by Richardson. “I have watched Satan hard at work, but I know God is bigger than my fears and concerns.

“I have been focusing on finding comfort in the Lord and confidence in Him. He is and will continue to be my rock. No one said being a Christian was going to be easy. But, I know my God will use this for good, I just can’t explain that right now…and that is OK. It has made me rely on Him more than ever because He has a plan. All I can do is trust Him…”

In an email, Kemp Elementary Principal Shea Thomas said Wall will be missed by colleagues and students.

“Jenna was a beloved member of the Kemp community — we are all heartbroken,” Thomas said. “She was an excellent teacher, a caring friend and a very loving mother. Her boys were everything to her. Her positive spirit and smile will be greatly missed.”

Wall’s funeral will be at 2 p.m. today at West Cobb Church in Marietta, followed by a private burial. In lieu of flowers, an account will be established at any Wells Fargo for the children of Jenna Charlton Wall.