KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Aniya Mack was a bright light, her lifelong friend LaQuenda Watson says.
Someone who thought of others before herself and wanted everyone to be happy. Even after her tragic death, the friend believes she would not want people to be sad.
“She could be in the middle of Walmart, middle of Meijer and she would just start dancing randomly in the aisle, not just a regular dance, a full 8-count,” Watson said on Friday.
Watson grew up with the woman she calls ‘Niya in Muskegon Heights where her friend was wildly popular and involved in everything.
“She walks into a room and you know it’s ‘Niya, all eyes are on ‘Niya, it’s just always been like that,” she said.
Mack came to Kalamazoo to attend Western Michigan University, where she hoped to end with a career helping children with mental health issues and was already working at Great Lakes Center for Autism Treatment and Research.
“She was supposed to start summer school yesterday and it’s heartbreaking to hear how it happened. She didn’t deserve it,” Watson said.
On Thursday, Mack’s body was pulled from Comstock Creek and on Friday, her boyfriend 25-year-old Donnovan Lewis was arraigned on open murder charges.
Police revealed Lewis confessed to hitting the woman and then stabbing her and slicing her throat.
In the early morning of Thursday, police said he led them to where he dumped the body.
Minutes before he was arrested, he posted the following message on Facebook: “I apologize to anyone that ever looked up to me and loved me.”
“That apology means nothing to me,” Watson said.
Watson said the couple was not serious, but were trying to work it out.
Watson says while she wants Lewis to face justice, she knows her friend would not people to be gripped by hate, anger and grief.
“She always said, ‘If something happens to me, I don’t want everybody to be sad, I don’t want nobody to wear black, I want everybody to be in bright colors,” Watson said.
Her friend says they hope to plan a remembrance for Mack on Saturday.
“Trust me, I been crying, but that ain’t what she want,” Watson said. “She want us to be as happy as possible and give her the best homegoing we can.”
Lewis faces life in prison if convicted and is being held in the Kalamazoo County Jail without bond.
He is scheduled to be back in court in two weeks.