The family of a teenager who was stabbed to death on her way to a school in south London have paid a heartbreaking tribute to their “beautiful” 15-year-old.
GCSE student Elianne Andam was on her way to the Old Palace at John Whitgift School in Croydon when she was attacked and killed on Wednesday morning.
Her devastated family broke their silence today and revealed how their lives were plunged into darkness after the loss of the beloved student who “dreamed of becoming a lawyer” after graduating from the best private school run by her NHS nurse mother was funded.
Elianne’s aunt Marian said the student’s mother arranged for her daughter to go to private school on £20,000 a year so she could have a “bright future”.
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But Elianne’s future is on the verge of the horror murder that occurred on Wednesday when the teenager was reportedly stabbed in the neck after he intervened to “protect her friend” who had allegedly refused flowers from an ex-boyfriend.
A 17-year-old boy who was arrested just over an hour after the stabbing in New Addington, south London, remains in custody and is being questioned by the Metropolitan Police.
Police were granted a 12-hour detention extension on Thursday morning to question the teenager. An autopsy is scheduled to take place on Thursday afternoon.
Speaking to reporters today, the family revealed their pain at losing “the light of our lives”.
A spokeswoman for her family said: “We are heartbroken by the senseless death of our daughter.
“Elianne was the light of our lives. She was bright and funny and had many friends who all adored her.
“She was only 15 and had her whole life ahead of her with hopes and dreams for the future.
“All those dreams are now shattered. Our lives have collapsed, as have those of our larger family.”
Dozens of bouquets of flowers were left at the scene of the teenager’s death as the tragedy shocked the masses.
Police officers who were among the first on the scene and fought to save Elianne appeared visibly moved as they laid flowers near where the schoolgirl died.
Among the floral gifts, cards and candles, a message read: “Rest in peace little princess, it is so sad that your life was taken in your prime. “You have touched my soul.”
“You just can’t understand the heartache of the last 24 hours, how Elianne went to school and never came home,” said Elianne’s aunt Marian Online mail.
“We are a big family and we are all there to support our sister. We are a big family and this has completely devastated us.” My sister is not feeling well, this only happened yesterday. It’s not understood yet, it’s a tragedy.
“She wanted to be a lawyer, she went to a private school sponsored by my sister and had a bright future ahead of her. “She was a pretty girl, she loved doing her hair, had beautiful natural hair and she really loved gymnastics,” her aunt told the publication.
It is understood a boy on a Route 60 double-decker bus full of schoolchildren was giving his ex-girlfriend a bouquet of flowers when the tragedy occurred.
The fatal attack occurred after getting off the bus when the girl is said to have rejected the bouquet of flowers.
Elianne reportedly intervened to help her friend before a boy reportedly pulled out the serrated zombie knife and plunged it into her neck.
Family and friends carrying flowers gathered at her NHS specialist nurse’s home, less than half a mile from where Elianne was fatally wounded.
Neighbor Rochelle Beaumont, 30, said she was there after the attack and saw Elianne’s body being placed on a stretcher.
she said The Independent: “I was taking my son on a scooter ride through Croydon when I saw all the police and people trying to resuscitate her.
“My friend was with her trying to help and said she just had no chance. Her toes didn’t move, she didn’t respond. He’s really traumatized, even though this didn’t happen to him.
“I saw them putting up the tent and knew she couldn’t make it. She must have passed me by so many times, it’s such a small and terrible world.
“She went to a good school, had her whole life ahead of her and then this happens. “I have six boys myself and I’m afraid to let them out of the house.”
Emergency crews were called to Wellesley Road, near Whitgift Shopping Center, at around 8.30am on Wednesday after receiving reports that the student had been stabbed.
She was initially helped by a bus driver and a passerby until paramedics arrived, but despite efforts to save her, she was pronounced dead 40 minutes later.
Witnesses said paramedics struggled to save her life while two other schoolgirls, believed to be her friends, tried to get through police lines.
Speak with The independent, Katia Brito, 22, said: “I arrived at the scene of the accident at 9.02am and the two buses had stopped. The tent was up and rescue workers were trying to keep them alive. Children were running under the underpass.”
Anthony King, chairman of My Ends – a project tackling youth violence in Croydon, was with the girl’s family after the incident and said they were “heartbroken”.
He added: “She had a bright future ahead of her. She was in her GCSE year.”
Mr King described the girl as an “absolutely incredible young lady” and said others described her as “jovial, very funny”.
Earlier on Thursday, Pastor Lorraine Jones said Sky News that the weapon used to supposedly slit her neck reminded her of the blade that took the life of her own son.
Murder victim’s mother says fatal stabbing in Croydon reflected ‘what killed her son’
“You cannot imagine the level of fear and anxiety our young girls are experiencing,” she told Kay Burley. “This will continue until we support the grassroots. I lost my son. I know something [her mother] goes through. I pray she can survive this, and she can. I know the father is in pain too.”
She called on London Mayor Sadiq Khan to provide additional funding for local anti-crime groups.
Scotland Yard confirmed the suspect knew the victim, adding: “Further inquiries are ongoing to establish their exact relationship.”
Several police vehicles cordoned off the number 60 bus, which was traveling towards Streatham Station, while forensic investigators continue to investigate the scene.
Police said officers were confident Elianne was attacked near the bus stop on Wellesley Road and not on board a bus.
DCI Rebecca Woodsford, who is leading the investigation, said: “My thoughts and the thoughts of my team are with Elianne’s family. This is a deeply worrying time for them and we will do everything we can to support them.
“Our investigation continues and we are making good progress. We have secured CCTV in the area and spoken to a number of witnesses. Forensic scientists also examined the crime scene.
“Based on these inquiries, we are now satisfied that Elianne was attacked outside on Wellesley Road near the bus stop and not on board the bus.
“We know there were many people in the area at the time and would have witnessed the attack. This would have been distressing and traumatic and I would encourage anyone who needs support to contact us and we will help to arrange this.”
Anyone who witnessed the attack or has information that can help officers is asked to contact police on 101, quoting reference number CAD 1601/27. to call September. To remain anonymous, please contact us crime fighter on 0800 555 111.