Family members will gather Saturday at Krug Park to remember a teen who was murdered there in 2016.
Carla Root, Kaytlin Root’s grandmother, made a trip from Nebraska to support her daughter and other family members at a remembrance ceremony starting at 5:30 p.m. inside the park.
“We try to keep (her case) alive because we don’t want this to happen to anyone else,” Carla Root said. “The big thing is ... the (two people sentenced in the case) were sending messages asking for victims, and if one of those people would’ve made a report, Kaytlin would be here with us.”
Teens Sebastian Dudley Dowell and Amanda Bennett pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the case. Root, then 17, was killed on Oct. 16, 2016.
Carla Root said police have offered her family a look at the case file, but she said they can’t bring themselves to view detailed evidence. Because Dowell and Bennett entered guilty pleas, there was no trial. Both received life sentences after admitting to stabbing Kaytlin Root to death.
“Kaytlin wasn’t what I consider to be my usual homicide victim,” then Buchanan County Prosecuting Attorney Dwight Scroggins said at the time. “She was simply one of, the only person who responded to messaging to meet this defendant who killed her. She hadn’t done anything.”
Carla Root now advocates for friends to report suspicious activity to the police, even if they believe it’s innocuous at the time.
“You should say something right away, whether it’s to your parents or the police,” she said. “And we want to make sure everybody stays aware because if one person would’ve said something, lives would be saved instead of destroyed.”
Everyone is welcome to attend the remembrance ceremony, Carla Root said. It is slated to begin at the upper portion of Krug Park at 5:30 p.m. Saturday.
The Root family hopes one specific person will attend: the jogger who reported finding Kaytlin’s body in the park. Carla Root said she’s met the man once before, at the first ceremony a few days after Kaytlin’s death, but the moment was a blur.
“I don’t really remember how much I talked to him, but he said he was very sorry and that he was the one who found her,” Carla Root said.